In 2010, China’s urban-dwelling population surpassed its rural population, marking a monumental demographic milestone in the country’s history.
Just three decades prior, China looked markedly different. Only 20% of Chinese citizens lived in urban areas, and many of today’s metropolises were still small villages.
Since then, huge swaths of the population have moved from farmland into cities, a shift that is still causing many urban areas to swell in size. Case in point is the growth of Guangzhou, which lays just north of Hong Kong. From 1980 to today, more than 18 million people moved into the city. A 40-year-old born in Guangzhou will have seen their small, regional city mushroom into one of the largest urban amalgamations on Earth.
Of course, this is just one example of a process that has been altering the landscape of cities from the coast of the South China Sea out to the Eurasian Steppe.
The One Million+ Club
According to Demographia’s World Urban Areas report, there are now 113 urban areas in China that surpass the one million population threshold. In comparison, North America and the EU combined have 114 urban areas that surpass one million people.
Below is a full breakdown of China’s one million+ club:
The massive scale of rural-to-urban migration isn’t just a major development within China, it has no parallel in modern history.
Since 1980, over half a billion people have moved from the countryside to an urban center. The construction of these new cities took a staggering amount of raw materials. Few data points highlight the scale of construction better than China’s cement production in recent years.
In 2018, Chinese construction used about 8x the amount of second place India, which has a similar population size.
Megacities on Megacities
Cities with over 10 million inhabitants are defined as megacities. China is already home to six megacities, with another three urban areas well on the way to achieving that status.
In fact, some megacities within close proximity have grown so large that they are merging into contiguous urban areas. The most prominent example of this phenomenon is in the Pearl River Delta region of China.
The Pearl River Delta region is not only home to the megacities of Guangzhou and Shenzhen, but also a number of other sizable cities that are quickly merging into a unified continuous entity containing up to 50 million people. Demographia still considers most of these cities to be separate labor markets — but as more connections form across the region, the Pearl River Delta could be poised to become the largest unified urban area in human history.
As megacities like Shanghai and Shenzhen have grown and developed, they’ve also become more expensive places to live and do business. The economic evolution of these cities has created opportunity for smaller, less developed cities to woo both residents and businesses.
This natural reshuffling has led to impressive growth in cities further inland like Zhengzhou, which sits 350 miles (630 kms) east of the coastline where many of the country’s largest cities reside.
Using the “build it and they will come” approach, the city converted a 160 square mile (410 sq km) patch of empty land into the Zhengzhou Airport Economy Zone (ZAEZ). The project has proven wildly successful, and the city even has the nickname “Apple City” thanks to the presence of Foxconn (which produces the iPhone) and a cluster of other smartphone manufacturers.
This airport-centered zone was developed with the full political and economic backing of Beijing as part of a broader effort to increase economic activity in China’s interior cities. Zhengzhou has nearly tripled in size over the last decade, a powerful testament to the shift in economic momentum.
China’s Inland All-Stars:
|Urban Area||Population 2010||Population 2019||Change (2010-19)|
Compare the numbers above to fast-growing cities in the U.S., such as Las Vegas or Phoenix, which managed 33% and 12% growth respectively over the last decade.
If this trend continues, China’s one million+ club will most likely expand once fresh census data is released in 2021.
Animated Chart: China’s Aging Population (1950-2100)
See why China is facing a demographic crisis in this animated chart.
China’s Aging Population Problem
The one-child policy defined China’s demographic transition for over three decades.
But to combat an aging population and declining birthrates, the government scrapped the policy for a new two-child policy in 2016. Despite this massive change, China still faces a growing demographic crisis.
The above animated population pyramid from James Eagle looks at the distribution of China’s population by age group since 1950, with projections up to the year 2100.
How the One-Child Policy Created a Gender Imbalance
Until 2016, the Chinese government strictly enforced the one-child policy since 1979 with hefty fines for any breach of rules. According to the government, the policy reduced 400 million births over the years.
However, it also led to sex-selective abortions due to a deep-rooted cultural preference for boys. As a result, China’s gender balance tilted, with a sex ratio of 111 males to 100 females in the population aging from 0 to 4 years old in 2020.
Often termed “the missing women of China”, this shortage of women is expected to worsen over time. According to the U.N.’s World Population Prospects, China is projected to have around 244 million fewer women than men in 2050.
Additionally, the country faces another impending consequence of the one-child policy—a rapidly aging population.
Why China’s Population is Aging
In 2020, China’s fertility rate—the number of children a woman is expected to have over her lifetime—stood at 1.3.
Generally, fertility rates drop as economies develop. However, China’s fertility rate is now lower than that of the U.S. (1.64 in 2020) and on par with countries like Japan and Italy, both of which are facing aging populations. Consequently, fewer newborns are entering the population, while many in the workforce approach retirement.
Most Chinese workers retire by age 60. Here’s how China’s retirement-age population is expected to shape up by the year 2100:
|Year||60+ Population||% of Total Population|
In 2021, people aged 60 and over made up nearly one-fifth of the Chinese population. As the country’s population begins declining around 2030, over 30% of all Chinese people are expected to be in this age group.
China’s aging population threatens long-term economic growth as its workforce shrinks and low fertility rates result in fewer newborns that would later enter the working-age population. Fewer working people means lower overall consumption, a higher burden on elderly care, and slowing economic growth.
So, how will China respond to the oncoming crisis?
The Three-child Policy
According to the 2020 national census, Chinese mothers gave birth to 12 million children in 2020—the lowest number of births since 1949.
In response to these results, the government passed a new law allowing each couple to have up to three children. Despite the change, the high cost of raising a child may deter couples from having a third child.
It remains to be seen how the three-child policy helps combat China’s demographic crisis and which other policies the government chooses to deploy.
The Top 100 Companies of the World: The U.S. vs Everyone Else
Where are the top 100 companies of the world located? We highlight the U.S. share of the top companies by market capitalization .
The Top 100 Companies of the World: U.S. vs Everyone
When it comes to breaking down the top 100 companies of the world, the United States still commands the largest slice of the pie.
Throughout the 20th century and before globalization reached its current peaks, American companies made the country an economic powerhouse and the source of a majority of global market value.
But even as countries like China have made headway with multi-billion dollar companies of their own, and the market’s most important sectors have shifted, the U.S. has managed to stay on top.
How do the top 100 companies of the world stack up? This visualization pulls from PwC’s annual ranking of the world’s largest companies, using market capitalization data from May 2021.
Where are the World’s Largest Companies Located?
The world’s top 100 companies account for a massive $31.7 trillion in market cap, but that wealth is not distributed evenly.
Between companies, there’s a wide range of market caps. For example, the difference between the world’s largest company (Apple) and the 100th largest (Anheuser-Busch) is $1.9 trillion.
And between countries, that divide becomes even more stark. Of the 16 countries with companies making the top 100 ranking, the U.S. accounts for 65% of the total market cap value.
|Location||# of Companies||Market Capitalization (May 2021)|
|🇺🇸 United States||59||$20.55T|
|🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia||1||$1.92T|
|🇰🇷 South Korea||1||$0.43T|
|🇬🇧 United Kingdom||3||$0.43T|
Compared to the U.S., other once-prominent markets like Japan, France, and the UK have seen their share of the world’s top 100 companies falter over the years. In fact, all of Europe accounts for just $3.46 trillion or 11% of the total market cap value of the list.
A major reason for the U.S. dominance in market values is a shift in important industries and contributors. Of the world’s top 100 companies, 52% were based in either technology or consumer discretionary, and the current largest players like Apple, Alphabet, Tesla, and Walmart are all American-based.
The Top 100 Companies of the World: Competition From China
The biggest and most impressive competitor to the U.S. is China.
With 14 companies of its own in the world’s top 100, China accounted for $4.19 trillion or 13% of the top 100’s total market cap value. That includes two of the top 10 firms by market cap, Tencent and Alibaba.
|Company||Country||Sector||Market Cap (May 2021)|
|#2||Saudi Aramco||Saudi Arabia||Energy||$1,920B|
|#4||Amazon||United States||Consumer Discretionary||$1,558B|
|#8||Tesla||United States||Consumer Discretionary||$641B|
|#10||Berkshire Hathway||United States||Financials||$588B|
|#13||JPMorgan Chase||United States||Financials||$465B|
|#14||Johnson & Johnson||United States||Health Care||$433B|
|#15||Samsung Electronics||South Korea||Technology||$431B|
|#16||Kweichow Moutai||China||Consumer Staples||$385B|
|#17||Walmart||United States||Consumer Discretionary||$383B|
|#19||UnitedHealth Group||United States||Health Care||$352B|
|#20||LVMH Moët Hennessy||France||Consumer Discretionary||$337B|
|#21||Walt Disney Co||United States||Consumer Discretionary||$335B|
|#22||Bank of America||United States||Financials||$334B|
|#23||Procter & Gamble||United States||Consumer Staples||$333B|
|#25||Home Depot||United States||Consumer Discretionary||$329B|
|#26||Nestle SA||Switzerland||Consumer Staples||$322B|
|#28||Paypal Holdings||United States||Industrials||$284B|
|#29||Roche Holdings||Switzerland||Health Care||$283B|
|#31||ASML Holding NV||Netherlands||Technology||$255B|
|#32||Toyota Motor||Japan||Consumer Discretionary||$254B|
|#34||Verizon Communications||United States||Telecommunication||$241B|
|#35||Exxon Mobil||United States||Energy||$236B|
|#36||Netflix||United States||Consumer Discretionary||$231B|
|#38||Coca-Cola Co||United States||Consumer Staples||$227B|
|#41||Cisco Systems||United States||Telecommunication||$218B|
|#44||China Construction Bank||China||Financials||$213B|
|#45||Abbott Labs||United States||Health Care||$212B|
|#46||Novartis AG||Switzerland||Health Care||$212B|
|#47||Nike||United States||Consumer Discretionary||$209B|
|#49||Pfizer||United States||Health Care||$202B|
|#50||Chevron||United States||Oil & Gas||$202B|
|#51||China Merchants Bank||China||Financials||$196B|
|#52||PepsiCo||United States||Consumer Staples||$195B|
|#54||Merck & Co||United States||Health Care||$195B|
|#55||AbbVie||United States||Health Care||$191B|
|#59||Thermo Fisher Scientific||United States||Health Care||$180B|
|#60||Eli Lilly & Co||United States||Health Care||$179B|
|#61||Agricultural Bank of China||China||Financials||$178B|
|#64||Texas Instruments||United States||Technology||$174B|
|#65||McDonalds||United States||Consumer Discretionary||$167B|
|#66||Volkswagen AG||Germany||Consumer Discretionary||$165B|
|#67||BHP Group||Australia||Basic Materials||$163B|
|#68||Wells Fargo & Co||United States||Financials||$162B|
|#69||Tata Consultancy Services||India||Technology||$161B|
|#70||Danaher||United States||Health Care||$160B|
|#71||Novo Nordisk||Denmark||Health Care||$160B|
|#73||Wuliangye Yibin||China||Consumer Staples||$159B|
|#74||Costco Wholesale||United States||Consumer Discretionary||$156B|
|#75||T-Mobile US||United States||Telecommunication||$156B|
|#81||Royal Dutch Shell||Netherlands||Oil & Gas||$148B|
|#82||NextEra Energy||United States||Utilities||$148B|
|#83||United Parcel Service||United States||Industrials||$148B|
|#84||Union PAC||United States||Industrials||$148B|
|#85||Unilever||United Kingdom||Consumer Staples||$147B|
|#87||Linde||United Kingdom||Basic Materials||$146B|
|#88||Amgen||United States||Health Care||$144B|
|#89||Bristol Myers Squibb||United States||Health Care||$141B|
|#91||Bank of China||China||Financials||$139B|
|#92||Philip Morris||United States||Consumer Staples||$138B|
|#93||Lowe's Companies||United States||Consumer Discretionary||$136B|
|#94||Charter Communications||United States||Telecommunication||$135B|
|#96||Sony Group||Japan||Consumer Discretionary||$132B|
|#97||Astrazeneca||United Kingdom||Health Care||$131B|
|#98||Royal Bank of Canada||Canada||Financials||$131B|
|#99||Starbucks||United States||Consumer Discretionary||$129B|
Impressively, China’s rise in market value isn’t limited to well-known tech and consumer companies. The country’s second biggest contributing industry to the top 100 firms was finance, once also the most valuable sector in the U.S. (currently 4th behind tech, consumer discretionary, and health care).
Other notable countries on the list include Saudi Arabia and its state-owned oil and gas giant Saudi Aramco, which is the third largest company in the world. Despite only having one company in the top 100, Saudi Arabia had the third-largest share of the top 100’s total market cap value.
As Europe continues to lose ground year-over-year and the rest of Asia struggles to keep up, the top 100 companies might become increasingly concentrated in just the U.S. and China. The question is, will the imbalance of global market value start to even out, or become even bigger?
Misc1 week ago
From Greek to Latin: Visualizing the Evolution of the Alphabet
Best of3 weeks ago
Our Top 21 Visualizations of 2021
Markets2 weeks ago
Prediction Consensus: What the Experts See Coming in 2022
Technology2 weeks ago
Companies Gone Public in 2021: Visualizing IPO Valuations
Technology2 days ago
The 20 Internet Giants That Rule the Web
Misc3 weeks ago
Mapped: Top Trending Searches of 2021 in Every U.S. State
Green3 weeks ago
Mapped: 30 Years of Deforestation and Forest Growth, by Country
Markets2 weeks ago
How Every Asset Class, Currency, and S&P 500 Sector Performed in 2021