May 23, 2007 marked the first time that more human beings lived in cities than in the country. The degree of this urban—rural divide varies wildly from country to country, but the shift to cities is a pronounced one. And, it’s one that’s unlikely to reverse. But as they boom, not all cities will look the same.
Whether the necessarily-massive cities of the near-future become hubs of violence or meccas for free-wheeling intellectuals set on changing the world can depend on the efforts of urban planers, civil engineers, and municipal governments. Based on the work of consulting firm McKinsey & Company Foreign Policy magazine compiled a list of the 75 most economically dynamic cities—the ones set to grow and thrive in coming decades.
As you can probably guess, the list is bursting with Asian giants, such as Singapore, Beijing, Tokyo, and Taipei, but also up-and-comers like Shenzhen, the manufacturing hub home to much of the world’s technology. A number of U.S. cities grace the list: Philadelphia, Miami, Chicago, Phoenix, and Atlanta—home to “the country’s largest concentration of college-educated young professionals”—among others.
In addition to sometimes-bursting populations, cities also bring huge economic disparities and densely-packed pockets of crime. On the other hand, urban centers often attract eager, intelligent entrepreneurs looking for their break. As Nassim Nicholas Taleb describes in his book The Black Swan, the same high-density living that can bring about a harried and potentially dangerous existence also “increase the odds of serendipitous encounters.”
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