Real Instituto Elcano
La pandemia no frena a las ciudades
José Pablo Martínez

The appealing of cities is going on after the pandemic

According to an article by @rielcano, contrary to what could be expected as a natural step forward during the pandemic, especially during lockdowns, migratory flows to rural areas have not improved and estimates suggest that the urban population will continue to grow in the future.

Main takeaways from the article:

  • Migratory flows to the rural world in Spain did not improve with the pandemic: During the pandemic, especially during lockdowns, some expected that the proper functioning of teleworking and the enhancement of spacious homes in natural surroundings could favour a return to the countryside that reversed the trend of recent decades. However, the reality is that the data on migratory flows to the rural world (municipalities with fewer than 10,000 inhabitants) were lower in 2020 (502,583 people) than in 2019 (505,738). However, the exodus from the rural areas to the cities stopped.

  • The appealing of cities is going on mainly thanks to two intrinsically urban strengths: economies of scale and social interaction.

‑ Since 2007, more than half of the planet's population is living in cities. Although with wide differences by continent: while in America more than 80% of people live in cities, in Africa they barely reach 40%.
Pre-pandemic estimates suggested that by 2050, more than two-thirds of the world's population will live in cities.

‑ Increasingly large cities: while in 1990, 34% of the urban population lived in cities with more than one million inhabitants, in 2020 that percentage had already risen to 43%, and by 2035 it is estimated to reach 47%. In relation to the "megacities" (>10 million population) they would have tripled since 1990 (up to 30) being more than half in the Asian continent. By the year 2100 the demographic explosion in Africa would translate into an intense proliferation of “megacities”, with Lagos and Kinshasa even surpassing 80 million inhabitants. 

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