A Tale of 600 Cities

Where most of the world's growth will come from

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Chongqing. Guangzhou. Wuhan. If any business claims to be a global player over the next 20 years but has no eye on these emerging Chinese cities, short its stock. According to a new report from the McKinsey Global Institute, "Urban World: Mapping the Economic Power of Cities," nine of the 10 urban areas that will experience the highest GDP growth from 2007 to 2025 are in China. Out of the top 25 growth cities, an astonishing 21 are in the developing world. From the old guard, only New York, London, Los Angeles and Tokyo will outgrow places like Xi'an and Dongguan.

The upshot is that urbanization as much as globalization is shaping the earth's economy. With a fifth of the world's population, 600 urban centers account for some 60% of worldwide GDP. By 2025, McKinsey expects the mix of these top cities to radically change. All the new entrants will be from emerging markets, a shift that will have profound social consequences. Says Richard Dobbs, director of the McKinsey Global Institute: "This urbanization is lifting more people out of poverty than any movement in history."