Jobs in the cities will be more prevalent, productive, and lucrative in urban China and India than in rural areas.
China’s ranks of university graduates — growing by 26 percent annually — will mostly work in cities, which will compete to recruit their skills.
In India, three-quarters of new urban jobs will be in the service sector.
Even if China and India build roads and metro rail as fast as practically possible, they still won’t be able to match the soaring rates of car ownership and urban growth. The number of vehicles in China, for example, has grown three times faster than the capacity of roads over the last 20 years. In Beijing, traffic speed has already dropped to less than half of London’s. India’s predicament is even worse; if the country invests in its urban infrastructure at the predicted rate — an estimated $300 billion over 20 years — traffic across the country could literally come to a standstill.
China’s biggest urban challenge may be water; already, it has little to spare. Some 70 percent of water use today traces back to agriculture, but demand from urban consumers and commercial enterprise is on the rise. Even if the sheer amount of water isn’t the problem, location will be; the country will need to spend more than $120 billion on water systems in the coming years to transport, store, and manage supplies. In India, service delivery will fall woefully short of demand in coming years across most urban infrastructure sectors.