Megacity 2020: The Pearl River Delta's Astonishing Growth
Connect with us

China

Megacity 2020: The Pearl River Delta’s Astonishing Growth

Published

on

View a high resolution version of this graphic
pearl river delta population 2020

Megacity 2020: The Pearl River Delta’s Astonishing Growth

View the high resolution version of today’s graphic by clicking here.

In the late 1970s, the fertile river delta to the north of Hong Kong’s territory was primarily agricultural land. Shenzhen was an unassuming town of 30,000 people – with only one functioning taxi – and China was still very much a communist, rural country.

As the visualization above, by Time Out Hong Kong, demonstrates, the sleepy Pearl River Delta was on the cusp of an unprecedented growth spurt that would see cities expand and merge to become the largest contiguous urban region in the world.

A trickle becomes a flood

In 1979, the Chinese government – led by Deng Xiaoping – created four Special Economic Zones (SEZ) with the intention of attracting foreign direct investment and encouraging private enterprise.

The designation of Shenzhen and Zhuhai as SEZs was a strategic move to act as an “overflow” for businesses in Hong Kong, and the impact on the Pearl River Delta was profound and immediate.

A number of factors also helped contribute to the meteoric rise of the region: proximity to Hong Kong’s financial sector, a world-class seaport, a huge and inexpensive labor pool, cheap and abundant land, and few regulatory impediments to rapidly growing companies.

In the two decades after Deng Xiaoping’s market reforms, the GDP of the region grow by more than 10x and urbanization – bolstered by large-scale infrastructure projects – began in earnest.

To put the scale of this population clustering into perspective, here are the populations of cities within the Pearl River Delta in 2020 compared with modern-day metropolitan areas in North America and Europe:

chinese cities compared to western cities

Today, this compact region has a GDP equivalent to that of South Korea.

Megalopolis at the Gates

The explosive growth the Pearl River Delta has upended the regional balance of power.

At the close of the 20th century, Hong Kong was the undisputed economic powerhouse of the region. In fact, just prior to the handover from the United Kingdom to China, the city’s economic output was equal to a quarter of China’s entire GDP.

Today, the situation is markedly different. Hong Kong is no longer a separate entity, and its GDP represents a mere 3% of China’s.

This shift in the regional dynamic is causing trepidation in Hong Kong, where over 90% of the millennial population identifies as “Hong Konger” as opposed to “Chinese”. Although the government has agreed in spirit to maintain the city’s autonomy until 2047, recent actions suggest an eagerness to integrate the entire region into a seamless megacity.

The blurring of the lines appears to be well underway, as more than half a million people from the city now reside in Mainland China, up from approximately 150,000 a decade ago.

One physical manifestation of Mainland China’s push for an integrated region is the Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macau Bridge. This colossal infrastructure project is a 31 mile (50 km) connection that includes bridges, tunnels, and three man-made islands.

In China, where each project is more ambitious than the next, it’s only fitting that the world’s largest urban area will be connected by the world’s largest sea crossing.

Subscribe to Visual Capitalist

 

Subscribe to Visual Capitalist
Click for Comments

Money

The U.S. and China Account for Half the World’s Household Wealth

This visualization breaks down how household wealth is distributed around the world. Just 10 countries now account for 75% of total household wealth.

Published

on

The U.S. and China Account for Half the World’s Household Wealth

Measures like GDP are commonly used to understand the overall wealth and size of the economy. While looking at economic output on an annual basis is useful, there are other metrics to consider when evaluating the wealth of a nation.

Household wealth statistics reveal which country’s citizens are accruing the highest level of money and assets worldwide.

This visual utilizes data from Credit Suisse’s annual Global Wealth Report to break down the latest estimates for household wealth by country.

Household Wealth, by Country

Here’s how the world’s $463 trillion in household wealth is distributed:

RankCountryHousehold Wealth (2022)% of World Total
#1🇺🇸 United States$145.8T31.5%
#2🇨🇳 China$85.1T18.4%
#3🇯🇵 Japan$25.7T5.5%
#4🇩🇪 Germany$17.5T3.8%
#5🇬🇧 United Kingdom$16.3T3.5%
#6🇫🇷 France$16.2T3.5%
#7🇮🇳 India$14.2T3.1%
#8🇨🇦 Canada$12.4T2.7%
#9🇮🇹 Italy$11.5T2.5%
#10🇦🇺 Australia$10.6T2.3%
#11🇰🇷 South Korea$10.1T2.2%
#12🇪🇸 Spain$8.4T1.8%
#13🇹🇼 Taiwan$5.9T1.3%
#14🇳🇱 Netherlands$5.4T1.2%
#15🇨🇭 Switzerland$4.9T1.1%
Rest of World$73.6T15.6%
Total:$463.6T100.0%

As the table above demonstrates, global household wealth is far from being distributed equally.

Country-Level Wealth Concentration

Much of global wealth is concentrated in the biggest economies, with households in China and the U.S. combining to make up half of all personal wealth in the world. This differs slightly from using GDP as a measure, where the U.S. and China make up 24% and 19% of the world economy in nominal terms, respectively.

Today, just 10 countries account for 75% of total household wealth.

One of the biggest changes in recent years is the rise of wealth in China. A decade ago, China’s citizens were estimated to hold just 9% of the world’s wealth. That figure has now more than doubled, while median wealth in the country has skyrocketed from $3,111 to $26,752 between 2000 and 2021.

A Regional Look at Household Wealth

From a regional standpoint, wealth is equally split three ways, between North America, Asia, and everywhere else.

Chart showing global household wealth by region

In just one decade, Europe’s share of household wealth dropped by eight percentage points, which is due, in part, to the economic momentum of China.

Surprisingly, the regions of Africa, South America, Oceania, and the Middle East combine only for about 11% of the world’s total household wealth.

Where does this data come from?

Source: Global Wealth Report by Credit Suisse

Data note: There is no straightforward way of estimating household wealth in various countries, so the report utilizes three main measures including: a country’s average level of wealth, the patterns of a country’s wealth holdings, and Forbes list of billionaires.

Continue Reading

Misc

Ranked: The World’s Most Surveilled Cities

The world’s most surveilled cities contain hundreds of thousands of cameras. View this infographic to see the data in perspective.

Published

on

Ranked: The World’s Most Surveilled Cities

This may come as a surprise, but it wasn’t until 2007 that the global urban population overtook the rural population. At that time, the two groups were split nearly 50/50, with around 3.3 billion people apiece.

Today, the percentage of people living in urban areas has grown to over 55%, and is expected to reach 68% by 2050. Due to this trend, many of the world’s largest cities have become home to tens of millions of people.

In response to such incredible density, governments, businesses, and households have installed countless security cameras for various purposes including crime protection. To grasp the scale of this surveillance, we’ve taken data from a recent report by Comparitech to visualize the most surveilled cities in the world.

The List (Excluding China)

Excluding China for the time being, these are the world’s 10 most surveilled cities.

CityPopulationNumber of CamerasCameras per
1,000 people
🇮🇳 Indore, India3.2M200,60063
🇮🇳 Hyderabad, India10.5M440,29942
🇮🇳 Delhi, India16.3M436,60027
🇮🇳 Chennai, India11.5M282,12625
🇸🇬 Singapore6.0M108,98118
🇷🇺 Moscow, Russia12.6M213,00017
🇮🇶 Baghdad, Iraq7.5M120,00016
🇬🇧 London, UK9.5M127,37313
🇷🇺 St. Petersburg, Russia5.5M70,00013
🇺🇸 Los Angeles, U.S.3.9M34,9599

Figures rounded

The top four cities all belong to India, which is the world’s second largest country by population. Surveillance cameras are playing a major role in the country’s efforts to reduce crimes against women.

Further down the list are cities from a variety of countries. One of these is Russia, which has expanded its use of surveillance cameras in recent years. Given the country’s track record of human rights violations, activists are worried that facial recognition technology could become a tool of oppression.

The only U.S. city on the list is Los Angeles, which contains some of the country’s wealthiest neighborhoods and municipalities. That includes Beverly Hills, which according to the Los Angeles Times, has over 2,000 cameras for its population of 32,500. That translates to about 62 cameras per 1,000 people, meaning that Beverly Hills would finish at #2 in the global ranking if it were listed as a separate entity.

Surveillance in China

IHS Markit estimates that as of 2021, there are over 1 billion surveillance cameras installed worldwide. The firm also believes that 54% of these cameras are located in China.

Because of limited transparency, it’s impossible to pinpoint how many cameras are actually in each Chinese city. However, if we assume that China has 540 million cameras and divide that amongst its population of 1.46 billion, we can reasonably say that there are 373 cameras per 1,000 people (figures rounded).

Cameras in China

A limitation of this approach is that it assumes everyone in China lives in a city, which is far from reality. The most recent World Bank figures suggest that 37% of China’s population is rural, which equates to over 500 million people.

With this in mind, the number of cameras per 1,000 people in a Tier 1+ Chinese city (e.g. Shanghai) is likely far greater than 373.

More About China

China’s expansive use of cameras and facial recognition technology has been widely documented in the media. These networks enable the country’s social credit program, which gives local governments an unprecedented amount of oversight over its citizens.

For example, China’s camera networks can be used to verify ATM withdrawals, permit access into homes, and even publicly shame people for minor offences like jaywalking.

This might sound like a dystopian nightmare to Western audiences, but according to Chinese citizens, it’s mostly a good thing. In a 2018 survey of 2,209 citizens, 80% of respondents approved of social credit systems.

If you’re interested in learning more about surveillance in Chinese cities, consider this video from The Economist, which explores the opportunities and dangers of comprehensive state control.

Continue Reading

Subscribe

Popular