Megacities, the World’s Largest Cities Unleashed: Major Trends and Dynamics in Contemporary Global Urban Development

Authors: Xiaobin Zhao*, University of Hong Kong
Topics: Asia, Geography and Urban Health
Keywords: megacities; the world’s largest cities; urban internal and external driving forces; global urban development; human urban settlement
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 10:00 AM / 11:40 AM
Room: Grand Ballroom C, Astor, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In this study we ask two basic questions: will the megacity trend continue into the immediate and long-term future and why do more and more people continue to concentrate in the world’s biggest cities? Based on the UN dataset of all cities in the world with population 750,000 and a number of other datasets, and with an innovative application of the Gini coefficient, Key findings: 1) Cities around the world are becoming bigger and bigger, and megacities, the world’s biggest cities, are unleashed, with a clear divergence between “mega-local cities”, mainly located in developing countries, and “mega-global cities”, the more economically powerful cities in developed world; 2) an empirical ‘megacity relationship’ whereby a country or territory will potentially have one megacity for every 100 million people in the country; 3) powerful “internal” forces at work: the largest city of each country tends to dominate the urban structures of their respective countries and leads urban polarization growth first, giving an endogenous account as to why some cities, particular the largest cities become bigger and bigger; 4) major “external” forces: among the tested 20 and aggregated 5 variables, IT, and finance and business sectors are the key "external" factors driving the growth of cities and megacities, transforming “mega-local cities” to “mega-global cities”; 5) improved transport and telecommunication networks are also strong external factors driving megacity growth, which are contrast to common perceptions and most of existing literature.

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