Keywords: Asian cities, urbanisation, city ranking, global competitiveness, quality of life, demographic change, urban development, Shanghai, China, economic performance, environmental sustainability, population wellbeing, existing institutions, bottlenecks
'Urban world idol': could Shanghai rank #1 by 2050?
More than two thirds of the world's population is expected to be living in urban areas in the second half of the 21st century. Economic performance, environmental sustainability and wellbeing of the population of the cities of the future are therefore very important issues. In this short paper we endeavour to identify the 'best' city around 2050 on the continent of Asia. We do this by a hybrid method that combines three types of rankings. The first is an average ranking drawn from five well known studies that rank the current performance of cities around the world. The second is a consideration of potential attractiveness of cities based on recent demographic change. The third is our own subjective assessment that takes the impact of existing institutions and bottlenecks into account. When combining the three component rankings with varying weights, the city of Shanghai ranks mostly the highest or among the highest three. The city could therefore become an 'idol' of the Asian urban world of 2050. Given that, from a global perspective, Asia combines high potential with low vulnerability, it is not impossible that Shanghai might even take the number one position in the world around the middle of the century.