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By Nathan Chaudoin - September 27, 2017
Throughout history, population shifts from rural to urban areas have driven increased productivity, consumption, and higher standards of living. Population concentrations into centralized urban centers have helped produce an ample work force while allowing for more efficient uses of energy and resources. This concentration also eases the distribution of goods and services among a growing consumer class. The Industrial Revolution in Europe and the U.S. in the mid-eighteenth century would have been impossible without such migration.
Today, the massive move of agricultural and mining workers from the countryside to rapidly growing cities is similarly transforming the economies of many of the world’s emerging markets (EM). Younger, fast-growing populations are leaving agricultural areas and moving to expanding cities in search of better-paying jobs and a higher standard of living. The following are just some of the transformations we expect to see in EM in the next 20 to 30 years.
An estimated 5.2 billion people, more than half the world's population, will be living in urban centers in emerging markets by mid-century.1
According to McKinsey Global Institute research, EM cities and megacities (those with populations of 10 million or more) should account for approximately 60 percent of global gross domestic product (GDP) growth over the next decade; and that figure is accelerating.2
Each month, India adds about 1.1 million people of working age (15-64, as defined by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development [OECD]). China, despite an aging population, will add more than 100 million workers over the next 15 years.3
All told, half of urban growth over the next decade will come from Asia; China and India alone will account for about one third of that growth.
Urban consumers are expected to be the leading component of global consumption growth for the next decade and more, adding about USD $20 trillion per annum to global goods spending.2
The infrastructure spending required to create and expand cities and megacities will account for some of the most dramatic effects on specific areas of the markets.
We expect emerging consumers to drive higher demand for virtually all types and levels of goods and services, from necessities to luxury items.
The desire for a higher standard of living will also drive expansion in select portions of the markets, including healthcare, education and leisure travel.
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In 2019, we are seeing emerging markets investors focusing more on the bottom up—for stocks that will outperform—and less on just headline news.
Today, the massive population shifts from rural to urban areas is transforming the economies of many of the world’s emerging markets.
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The recent negative equity market response—despite limited economic exposures—reflects how markets are trying to price in the risk of escalated US protectionism, rather than any specific tariff. We believe the steel and aluminum tariffs will have a limited impact on emerging markets.
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Nine months ago, investors anticipated challenges for emerging markets. Turns out, there were reasons to be optimistic.
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1United Nations World Urbanisation Prospects, 2014. Data from 12/31/1950 to 12/31/2014, with estimates to 2050. More developed regions comprise Europe, North America, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan. Less developed regions comprise Africa, Asia (ex-Japan), Latin America, the Caribbean, and Oceania ex-Australia/New Zealand (Melanesia, Micronesia, Polynesia, and Indonesia).
2McKinsey Global Institute: “Urban World: Cities and the rise of the consuming class,” June 2012.
3Franklin Templeton: Mega Trends to Consider When Planning Emerging Market Portfolios: Urbanization,” 2013
International investing involves special risks, such as political instability and currency fluctuations. Investing in emerging markets may accentuate these risks.
The opinions expressed are those of American Century Investments (or the portfolio manager) and are no guarantee of the future performance of any American Century Investments' portfolio. This material has been prepared for educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide, and should not be relied upon for, investment, accounting, legal or tax advice.