All but three people sitting around the conference table in our old offices in New Tampa would jump a couple of inches out of their seats.
One or two would swear loudly.
Then we’d go through the typical five minute disruption of our meeting while our guests watched as the dumb bird that had just slammed into our meeting room window, would shake, turn and fly out over the lake.
“Oh look!” Someone would predictably say. “It left a body print. Dumb bird!”
All the newbies in the room would laugh at that.
And then Rodney would tell his short story about those red shoulder hawks while I’d bury my head in my phone, reading breaking news, watching markets, until the conversation turned back to something important – and useful – again.
Now imagine one of those guests went home and wrote a blog about a new trend: “Increasing Number of Tampa-Based Hawks Endangered By Human Expansion!”
That would be like rehashing old news. Reaching the wrong conclusions based on insufficient information at hand. Crying “new trend” when it’s no such thing.
Thankfully, we’ve not had anyone that idiotic or naïve in our conference room.
Unfortunately, we’re not so lucky when it comes to the media…
The Financial Times recently published an article on its website entitled: “Rural U.S. Shrinks as Young Flee for the Cities.” The well-meaning, but inexpert and under-informed, Demography Correspondent wrote the piece.
Her point was that, between 2010 and 2012, the population size in rural areas actually declined for the first time, given that young people were fleeing the countryside for better jobs in the cities and birthrates were lower.
This makes news?!
Young people dominate migration between states and from farms to cities.
Young people dominate immigration as well.
In fact, peak movers are typically between the ages of 25 and 29, although that range can start at 20 and stretch all the way to age 34. As such, these movers are young families looking for better jobs and better places to raise their kids… whether they’re living on a farm in India or the U.S.
And this has been the case the world over since the late 1700s, when the urbanization trend really took off in Great Britain during the Industrial Revolution. As is typical of any developing nation, the exodus from farms to cities accelerates exponentially until around the 70% saturation point. After that, such movement decreases significantly. But it still edges up towards 80% plus.
Americans were still a bunch of rednecks living on farms in 1790. Our urbanization didn’t start to accelerate until 1840. But once it did, it took just 130 years to hit that crucial 70% threshold, actually at 73%. Since 1970, our urbanization rate is growing only 0.2% per year. Slow, but still the trend.
This chart illustrates our migration clearly…
So, this is not a new trend at all.
It’s actually one of the very predictable trends we can predict anywhere around the world.
Of course young people want to escape their small town farm lives. Cities are inherently attractive, especially to younger people looking for opportunity, who have fewer possessions to move. The social and entertainment options are infinitely better, as is the array of jobs and specialties.
Of course governments encourage urbanization because that’s how they expand their GDP and income. As countries develop, the largest demographic trend comes from rising GDP per capita that relates directly, and in a linear fashion, with the percentage of urbanization.
Among countless other demographic trends and cycles we study and follow, this is why we look to India and Vietnam for higher growth potential, both at 32% urbanization rates. Why we don’t believe Brazil is so hot with its population already 80% urbanized. Why we stay away from Japan, which is fully urban and aging rapidly.
We track urbanization rates and the predictable growth in GDP per capita in different countries all over the world. We have all of the information we need to explore real trends and find ways to give you an edge. This is important information for any business or government dealing in emerging or developed countries.
If you need information on demographic trends anywhere in the world, don’t turn to the media. Turn to us. We’re the experts and we’ve got you covered!
Ahead of the Curve with Adam O’Dell
Developing countries need energy to urbanize. Whether they get it from coal, oil, nuclear or natural gas, the emerging market’s appetite for energy resources should only intensify as they climb the ladder out of the fields and into the cities.