The combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and rose to $15.8trillion in 2008(International Monetary Fund estimates) which is impressive when compared to the G.D.Ps of U.S.A and Canada ($ 15.5trillion) and Europe ($ 14.8trillion). This spontaneous exponential growth can be attributed to population dynamics (nearly two third of the world’s population resides in Asia), economic markets and or/socio-political conditions (a fusion of capitalism and socialism/communism) and the work ethic of these Asian cultures among. This paper shall ascertain the role of each of these three major factors in the increased economic growth rate in Asian cities and finally deduce which of the three has the most weight as far as the economy of the Asian cities is concerned.
2.0 Major factors contributing to growth of Asian cities
2.1 Population dynamics
The qualitative and quantitative population dynamics (population composition and number) play a crucial role in shaping the economic landscape of any given territory. These two characteristics of population have a direct impact on growth in terms of labor, market share, resource distribution, government policy and infrastructural development. Clearly as portrayed by the demographic figures of Asia, population dynamics is the major stimulant of growth in the region. Asia as a continent boasts of a population of 3.879 billion people which is approximately 60% of the current world’s population. This has been the major driving force of growth in the region and has subsequently shaped the economic market structure in the region as well as the sociopolitical landscape. The large population not only provides a ready market for trade but also provides human resource which is a major factor in economic growth.
Growth in the region has been stimulated by the fact that the cost of doing business in Europe and America has substantially risen. One of the factors that have increased the cost of doing business is the high cost of labor. Conversely the cost of labor in Asia is lower due to the high number of young, skilled and educated people. Note that most of the western cities are grappling with a diminishing population mainly comprising of retirees thus companies have often been forced to import skilled labor. In addition the Asian governments, in search of investors (so as to carter for the needs of their large populations), have made the conditions of doing business in the region favorable. Subsequently there has been a steady shift of capital bases from the West to the East. With this shift, came the necessity to educate the population so as to minimize the expatriate flock in the region and also to fully meet the needs of this shift in terms of skilled and semi-skilled labor. It’s evident that most institutes of higher learning are in Asia and as government policy, for instance in Singapore, basic education is mandatory in order to equip the citizenry with knowledge to maximize this new found capital from the West. Definitely this skilled labor has contributed to the phenomenal growth of the Asian cities.
Basically, the growth of Asia revolves around its population capabilities. Some case studies have illustrated that population dynamics play a more important role than the other two factors of urban growth. The United Arab Emirates population was essentially a small one but the discovery of oil and its subsequent export led to a rapid population explosion which consequently led to rapid growth of the region. The population explosion was due to the rise in United Arab Emirates’ indigenous population and immense immigration of expatriates who currently consist of more than two thirds of the population. Thus, it can be stated that the growth of United Arab Emirates is an attribute of its cosmopolitan aspect where by the indigenous population provide cheap labor (skilled and semiskilled), while the expatriates provide the technical know how required to run the economy. Similarly population explosion in some Asian cities
Conversely in Singapore over 60% of the native population is part of the economic labor force and the majority of the natives are extremely skilled and educated due to the compulsory primary (basic) education policy. Also, Singapore has one of the lowest population growth rates in the world hence population replacement among one of the lowest. Due to this, the Singapore government sought and encouraged foreign immigrants and expatriates to reside and work in the country to avert the unavoidable labor shortage. Currently, foreign labor comprises slightly over 30% of the labor force in Singapore, a majority of this consisting of cheap labor from developing Asian countries. Clearly, the labor force, market and sound government policies are the major factors affecting growth if the technological and resource base factors are held constant (assumed similar). All these three factors are clearly a function of population characteristics; thus sustainable growth is based on population dynamics.
2.2 Economic market
Economic market is one of the most important factors in determining whether business is carried out in any specified location in the world. In India, for instance, there’s a lot of competition in various sectors of the economy due to mass production thus stimulating growth. Competition also hinders monopolistic tendencies. The Indian market is free implying it operates under minimum interference from the government; this not only creates political goodwill but also investor confident in the economic forces.
However the competitive economy also discourages foreign investors. Most of the Asian countries have policies that protect their own industries thus are not naturally good economic markets for foreign companies. However the population dynamics are such that the local industries cannot fully meet the local demands. Thus the deficit due to the high insatiable population attracts foreign investment and not the forces of the economic market.
2.3 Socio-political conditions
These refer to the cultural and organizational structures of a people, the keyword being people. Politics and culture are strongly dependent on population dynamics. Growth in Asia has been favored by the sound financial strategies, development policies and international policies implemented by the respective Asian governments. For instance the recent China-Africa agreements are strongly motivated by the need to provide for the Chinese population and the same applies to the 1992 Hong Kong treaty. It is however to not that the socio-political conditions have not been always been favorable, for instance there have been political upheavals in Asia, yet the Asian cities have continued to grow. The Asian governments, for example Japan, Taiwan and Korea, have been accused of nondemocratic practices and condemned by world leaders for some of their policies.
In conclusion the forcers of economic markets and sociopolitical conditions have contributed to the phenomenal growth of the Asian cities. However the qualitative and the quantitative population dynamics have been the major factors contributing to the growth of the Asian Cities. The high population has provided a ready market for industries as well as cheap labor. The cosmopolitan and highly skilled population has also been significant for the growth in the Asian cities.
Bank, W. (1997). The State in a Changing World. Washington D.C: Oxford University Press.
Satterthwaite, D. (2008). Understanding Asian Cities: A Synthesis of the Findings from Eight City Case Studies. Thailand: Bangkok Publishers.
UNDP. (2003). Human Development Report 2003: Millennium Development Goals: A Compact Among Nations to End Human Poverty. New York: Cambridge University Press.
UnitedNations. (2004). World Urbanization Prospects. New York: Harvard University Press.
Vogel, E. F. (2004). The Four Little Dragons: The Spread of Industrialization in East Asia. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.