Economic trends

Chart: the world’s most global cities

London, New York and Paris are the world’s most ‘global’ cities, but three Asian contenders could disrupt the order

Image-Philippe-DP-Global-cities-chart

 

There are several major ‘hubs’ in the world, but only a handful rank highly across many categories, allowing them to qualify as a ‘global’ city. The categories include: size; finance; culture; higher education and think tanks; economic power, the presence of global organisations; multiculturalism; political openness; good governance on tackling environmental issues; connectivity; and infrastructure.

In almost all of these rankings, three cities come out on top: London, New York and Paris. London and New York come interchangeably top, with Paris third.

Assessing the power of cities can be a subjective exercise. While population size is a tangible measure, it doesn’t necessarily correlate with how powerful or global a city is. The world’s most populous cities tend to be in emerging markets, but the most ‘global’ ones still tend to reflect the old world order.

However, the world order is changing.

Shanghai, Mumbai and Singapore all have positive potential. Each has the ability to improve on various indicators. For example, pollution levels will reduce as these cities become wealthier and their economies become more service than heavy-industry focused. Power could also be slowly redistributed, as Asian economies gain more influence in multi-lateral institutions.

High GDP growth rates for Shanghai and Mumbai will help increase education levels, cultural life, the presence of multinational headquarters, and financial and economic strength. As the cities prosper, their connectivity with the world will improve, too.

However, seats of power and good governance on tackling environmental issues could take longer, although the recent signing of the climate change agreement is a positive step in the right direction.

Global cities are self-reinforcing hubs, driving globalisation and reshaping identities and world views. Over the last few decades, certain Western cities have continued to drive the globalisation process. However, Asian cities could disrupt the old world order.

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