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FILE PHOTO: A woman enjoys a walk along an avenue of trees at Prater recreation area on a rainy autumn day in Vienna, Austria, October 16, 2015. REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader/File Photo - RTX30VHO
Future Development

Future Development Reads: Cities and the middle class

Have you ever wondered in these turbulent times where it would be best to live? Last week, Mercer published again its annual list of most livable cities. Vienna, the capital of Austria and home of your author, made it again into the number one spot for the eighth consecutive year. Of the top 11 cities, eight are in Europe (Vienna, Zurich, Munich, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Geneva, Copenhagen, and Basel) and two are in Oceania (Auckland and Sydney). North America is represented by Vancouver. 


However, the most livable cities are not the most expensive ones. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit cost of living index (also released last week), the most expensive city is Singapore, followed by mostly other Asian cities.

This is also a reflection of the fact that Asia is the new powerhouse of the global middle class. Our own Homi Kharas published an update on the unprecedented expansion of the global middle class, which will again serve as a reference for many years to come. It should also give pause to those who talk about the decline of the middle class. Globally, the middle class will raise from 3 billion people in 2015 to more than 5.5 billion by 2030. Already in the next five years there will be 1 billion more middle-class consumers, of which more than 85 percent will be Asians.

This blog was first launched in September 2013 by the World Bank in an effort to hold governments more accountable to poor people and offer solutions to the most prominent development challenges. Continuing this goal, Future Development was re-launched in January 2015 at

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