The new McKinsey Global Institute report Urban World: Cities and the rise of the consuming class argues “it is not hyperbole to say that we are observing the most significant economic transformation the world has seen. China is urbanizing on 100 times the scale of Britain in the 18th century and at more than ten times the speed.”
The report includes a map of the world’s shifting economic “center of gravity” to communicate graphically the historical trends in global economic power over the last 2000 years.
Here is the map: NIC Blog – MGI – Shifting economic center of gravity
This map shows that for roughly from 1 AD to 1820 AD, the world’s economic center of gravity remained relatively unchanged and balanced between East and West, then shifted dramatically toward Europe and the North America during the 19th century and first half of the 20th century, and later began to shift back toward Asia in the second half of the 20th century. Significantly, “it has been in the most recent decade of 2000 to 2010 that we have observed the fastest rate of change in global economic balance in history.” As the map highlights, the shift in economic “center of gravity” from 2000 to 2025 toward Asia, driven by in large part by urbanization, will be almost as significant as the “center of gravity’s” movement toward Europe between 1820 and 1913.
This time it is different!