The Economist Intelligence Unit has one of the largest and most experienced country and industry analysis teams in the world. Our 100 full-time country experts and economists, based in offices around the world, have a thorough grounding in economics, politics, risk and industry. Most have lived and worked in the region they cover; many are fluent in local languages; and three out of four have advanced degrees. To ensure that this expertise remains fresh and up to date, each country analyst focuses on two or three countries, and visits them regularly.

Our experts are supported by a huge network of contributors based in virtually every country of the world. Currently numbering 650, our contributors report on recent economic and political events, comment on the business environment and legislative changes, and give their views on political, economic and social trends.

Latest Press Releases

  • According to a new survey, uncertainty about economic growth is by far the top concern of treasurers worldwide Low or even negative interest rates are…
    in Latest Press Releases
  • Hong Kong ranks third, with experts applauding improvements Low ranking of some Southeast Asian countries could portend rise in illicit trade as manufacturing shifts from…
    in Latest Press Releases
  • New Zealand and Australia get highest scores in new index measuring integration In high–income Asian countries (Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan) services…
    in Latest Press Releases

Twitter Feed

How shifting demographics are a powerful force in customer-driven #disruption #BetterWorkingWorld https://t.co/GEzUzy2Li7

Looking forward to the #AmericanDreamChat tmrw at 12:30? DM us your questions ahead of the chat and we will try and answer them at the end!

RT @FiratUenlue: One of the most important charts for #India these days - Why the government and RBI have an incentive to dilute Rajan's ba…

@MarkLeoOtto Tune in tomorrow at 12:30pm EST for the #AmericanDreamChat moderated by EIU editor @BeccaLipman https://t.co/xUmTEKiDsl
Monday, 09 July 2012

13 megalopolises to emerge in China by 2020

 China’s new consumer class will be concentrated in megalopolises – cities or clusters of cities with a population of over 10m


The ongoing movement of China’s people to the cities will lead to the rise of immense urban agglomerations as the population shifts towards key focus points across the country.


The number of these new urban nerve centres will rise from three in 2000 to 13 by 2020, representing over one-third of the urban population by the end of the decade.


Supersized cities: China’s 13 megalopolises is a special report from the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Access China team that uses the EIU’s city-level income and population forecasts to outline the trajectory of development for China’s urban centres and the impact key changes will have on several core sectors, including healthcare and education.


The report examines the prospects of the megalopolises with regards to the development of their middle classes. The megalopolises that will emerge over the coming decade will be poorer and younger than those that have already reached dominance, and their distinct demographic and income profiles mean that investors need flexibility in their approach to the Chinese market.


Key findings of the report include:


·        While population expansion has ground to a halt in the rest of the country, the megalopolises will continue to see their populations grow. Falling fertility rates in China, largely owing to a combination of birth-control measures and the prohibitive costs associated with bringing up children, have brought population growth practically to a halt. Nevertheless, the populations of these megalopolises have risen sharply in recent years.


·        The differing timeframe and pace of migration will translate into markedly different demographic profiles for these megalopolises. By 2020 trends will become more pronounced as the working-age populations of several city clusters peak in size.


·        Not all of the megalopolises will have a majority of their populations reach middle-class status by 2020. The proportion of the population earning more than Rmb30,000—our benchmark for middle-class status—now averages above 40% in greater Beijing, greater Shanghai and Shenzhen. By 2020 the 50% milestone will be reached by most of the megacity clusters. But greater Zhengzhou, greater Shenyang and Chongqing will maintain the smallest proportions of middle-income earners, and fail to reach the 50% mark by 2020.


“The urbanisation of China has already been extensively covered; however the number and scale of the megacities that will emerge by the end of this decade will provide a new context for China’s urban growth story,” says Victoria Lai, an analyst for Access China. “Chengdu’s development trajectory to 2020 will differ from that taken by Shenzhen in the previous decade. The potential is clear—each of these megacities is the size of a small country. But these newly emerging giants are still relatively poor, and the varying pace and character of their development will make regional sub-strategies essential.”







Snapshot of megalopolises





Population* (m)

GDP** (Rmb bn)


Changsha, Zhuzhou, Xiangtan











Greater Beijing

Beijing, Tianjin



Greater Shanghai

Shanghai, Suzhou



Greater Xi'an

Xi'an, Xianyang



Greater Zhengzhou

Zhengzhou, Kaifeng



Greater Guangzhou

Guangzhou, Foshan, Zhaoqing



Hefei economic circle

Hefei, Lu'an, Huainan, Chaohu



Shandong peninsula

Qingdao, Yantai, Weihai, Rizhao, Weifang, Jinan, Binzhou, Dongying, Zibo



Greater Shenyang

Shenyang, Anshan, Fushun, Yingkou, Benxi, Liaoyang, Tieling











Source: Economist Intelligence Unit, National Bureau of Statistics.

*2010 estimates, metropolitan area



*2009 figures, metropolitan area



An Economist Group business © 2011 The Economist Intelligence Unit Limited. All rights reserved.

About us | Privacy | Terms of access | Contact us | Help

Connect with us