With more than half the world’s population now living in urban
areas, cities are the critical drivers of global economic growth
and prosperity. The world’s 123 largest metro areas contain a little
more than one-eighth of global population, but generate nearly
one-third of global economic output.
As societies and economies around the world have urbanized, they have upended the classic notion of a global
city. No longer is the global economy driven by a select few major financial centers like New York, London,
and Tokyo. Today, members of a vast and complex network of cities participate in international flows of goods,
services, people, capital, and ideas, and thus make distinctive contributions to global growth and opportunity.
And as the global economy continues to suffer from what the IMF terms “too slow growth for too long,” efforts
to understand and enhance cities’ contributions to growth and prosperity become even more important.
In view of these trends and challenges, this report redefines global cities. It introduces a new typology that
builds from a first-of-its-kind database of dozens of indicators, standardized across the world’s 123 largest
metro economies, to examine global city economic characteristics, industrial structure, and key competitive-
ness factors: tradable clusters, innovation, talent, and infrastructure connectivity.
The typology reveals that, indeed, there is no one way to be a global city. Grouped into seven metropolitan clus-
ters, the distinct competitive positions of the world’s largest metro economies become sharper, as do the peers
metropolitan areas can look to for common solutions and investments to enhance economic growth:

➤ GLOBAL GIANTS are the largest cities in the United States (New York and Los Angeles), Japan (Tokyo and Osaka-Kobe), France (Paris), and the United Kingdom (London). These extremely large, wealthy metro areas are hubs for financial markets or major corporations, and they serve as key nodes in global capital and talent flows.

➤ ASIAN ANCHORS include five Pacific-facing metro areas—Beijing, Hong Kong, Seoul-Incheon, Shang-hai, and Singapore—and a sixth major emerging market metro, Moscow. Asian Anchors are not as wealthy as their Global Giant counterparts, but they play a similar role as command centers in fast-growing Asia by drawing on their infrastructure connectivity and talented workforces to attract the most foreign direct investment (FDI) of any metro grouping.

➤ EMERGING GATEWAYS are 28 large business and transportation entry points for major national and regional markets in Africa (e.g., Johannesburg), Asia (e.g., Mumbai), Latin America (e.g., São Paulo), and the Middle East (e.g., Istanbul). These metros have grown healthily to reach middle-income status, but they lag on many key competitiveness factors compared to their global peers.

➤ FACTORY CHINA includes 22 second- and third-tier Chinese cities reliant on export-intensive manufactur-ing to power economic growth and global engagement. Factory China grew faster than every other metro grouping since 2000, but these cities are still quite poor compared to other global cities, and now must upgrade their human capital to effect a transition to a more balanced, services-oriented industrial structure.

➤ KNOWLEDGE CAPITALS are 19 mid-sized, highly productive innovation centers in the United States (e.g., Boston, Dallas, San Jose, and Seattle) and Europe (e.g., Amsterdam and Zurich) with talented workforces and elite research universities. These regions are at the world’s innovation frontier, and thus they are challenged constantly to generate new knowledge and ideas to sustain growth.

➤ AMERICAN MIDDLEWEIGHTS are 16 mid-sized U.S. metro areas, including places like Indianapolis, Miami, and St. Louis, that are relatively wealthy and house strong universities and other anchor institutions. But relatively low traded-sector productivity and FDI levels suggest they must continue to strategically align their existing assets to improve traded-sector competitiveness.

➤ INTERNATIONAL MIDDLEWEIGHTS include 26 mid-sized cities in Australia (Melbourne and Sydney), Canada (Montreal and Toronto), and Europe (several German metros) globally connected by people and invest-ment flows but still experiencing lagging growth since the financial crisis. Like their American middleweight peers, they are striving for a post-recession niche in the global economy, to varying degrees of success.

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By the BROOKINGS Institution. via

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