Americans and Western Europeans have had a lock on unsustainable over- consumption for decades. But now developing countries are catching up rapidly, to the detriment of the environment, health, and happiness, according to the Worldwatch Institute in its annual report, State of the World 2004.
Approximately 1.7 billion people worldwide now belong to the "consumer class"—the group of people characterized by diets of highly processed food, desire for bigger houses, more and bigger cars, higher levels of debt, and lifestyles devoted to the accumulation of non-essential goods.
Today nearly half of global consumers reside in developing countries, including 240 million in China and 120 million in India—markets with the most potential for expansion.
"Rising consumption has helped meet basic needs and create jobs,"