Redefining Global Cities
A new report by the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program provides detailed data on the 123 largest global cities based on their metro economies and uses these data to create a new typology of the seven types of global cities. Through this typology, this report aims to provide a valuable lens through which to understand the evolving global economy.
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 competitiveness 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 clusters, 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: These are the world’s leading economic and financial centers, its foremost global cities. They include New York, Los Angeles, London, Paris, Tokyo, and Osaka-Kobe.
- Asian Anchors: These are Asia’s five established and rising economic power centers: Hong Kong, Singapore, Seoul-Incheon, Shanghai, Beijing—and Moscow. Their ability to attract foreign direct investment makes them serious global power players despite having lower levels of economic output than the Global Giants.
- Emerging Gateways: These are 28 large global business and transportation gateways for major national and regional markets, including Mexico City, Sao Paolo, Rio de Janeiro, Istanbul, Mumbai, and Johannesburg.
- Factory China: This set includes 22 second- and third-tier Chinese cities that are manufacturing powerhouses. Even though these metros have experienced rapid growth based on export-intensive manufacturing, they remain relatively poor.
- Knowledge Capitals: These are world’s leading knowledge and tech hubs. They include 19 cities centers such as San Jose (the Silicon Valley), Boston, Seattle, San Diego, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Austin, Dallas, Atlanta, Portland, and Denver in the U.S. and Amsterdam, Stockholm, and Zurich in Europe.
- American Middleweights: These are 16 mid-sized U.S. metro areas, including places that are growing via connections to the global economy, including Miami and Rustbelt metros like Cleveland, Detroit, and Pittsburgh, which have up until now have seen their major industries challenged by global competition.
- International Middleweights: This group includes 26 mid-sized metros outside the U.S., including Toronto and Vancouver in Canada; Brussels, Rome, Milan, Berlin, Vienna, Madrid, and Barcelona in Europe; Sydney, Melbourne, and Perth in Australia; and Tel Aviv in the Middle East. Many of these cities are aspiring tech and knowledge hubs and serve as centers for talent, as well.