Rising middle class is hungry for culture

The world is young – 1.8 billion of the world’s population was between 10 and 24 years old in 2014, a record high — and global literacy has improved significantly. Strong economic growth and young populations are already combining to produce a surge of middle-class consumers in many emerging markets.

Nowhere is this trend stronger than in Asia and Africa: the rapid emergence of Asia’s middle class is adding a leisure center to the world’s manufacturing hub. Already, Asia counts 525 million middle class cultural consumers.

Global cities provide a concentration of people hungry for entertainment in many forms, and with diverse appetites. They provide a market for culture and allow cultural diversity to flourish — an effect increasingly displayed in China. Rising urbanization and demand for entertainment have prompted large investments in construction and real estate in the country. 

Cultural knowledge and consumption have become a means of enhancing social status. This trend is clearly apparent in India, where rising newspaper sales reflect social as well as economic aspirations. Urbanization is accompanied by changing employment patterns and the acquisition of new skills: African urbanization is part of a shift from agriculture to manufacturing and services. In Latin America, governments are awakening to the opportunities offered by, and the needs of, their developing creative industries. A vocational school for performing arts was recently established in La Plata, Argentina, to equip unemployed youngsters and adults for jobs in this growing arena.