Insight – Creative and Diverse: Ranking Global Cities

The Martin Prosperity Institute recently embarked on a project to determine how cities throughout the world are performing based on the three T’s of economic development (along with the fourth dimension of quality of place) as outlined in Rise of the Creative Class. The project, entitled Global Cities, resulted in a scorecard for a variety of world cities that provides a detailed examination of how each city is performing in the creative economy. We took the top cities, based on GDP worldwide and analysed them based upon the Three T’s (Talent, Technology, and Tolerance) and a fourth measure of Amenities and Quality of Place. For a detailed explanation of these categories, follow this link. For each of these four categories, individual Grades were assigned for numerous metrics within each category to provide a detailed breakdown of how each city is performing in regards to each Index and in relation to each other, followed by an overall grade for each category. For example Patents, Innovation, Job Growth, and High-Tech Index are some of the metrics that make up the Technology Grade. The four main categories were then combined to create an overall score and rank for each city. This Insight will present the results for the first 61 cities that are being released.

In terms of the grading system used, please keep the following in mind when reading. The cities were researched over a period of months by different authors, and while the grading is consistent as much as possible across cities, each scorecard is an individual work and stands alone. For the US cities, data was used from Rise of the Creative Class Revisited, and for the other cities, references for the data used are provided in each scorecard, and U.S. currency is used unless stated otherwise.

Out of the 61 global cities studied, Ottawa, Canada was found to be the number one city on our list. Ottawa received high grades in each of the categories, and the highest Talent grade of any city. The Overall Talent Grade was made up of metrics such as Education Spending, Educational Institutions, Creative Class share, and Educated Population. Ottawa has one of the highest Creative Class shares at 45.9% and one of the highest human capital shares at 35.4%, contributing to the high Talent grade. Ottawa is followed by Seattle at number 2. The North-Western U.S. city received balanced grades also, but received the highest Technology and Amenities & Quality of Life grades. The rest of the top 10 are as follows: #3 Oslo, #4 District of Columbia, #4 Amsterdam, #6 London, #6 Tel Aviv-Yafo, #6 Copenhagen, #9 Calgary, and #9 New York-Newark. While the largest number of cities in the top 10 is from the U.S., there are many cities from countries around the world that received some of the highest grades in certain categories. This is a common theme, as in the entire report; many global cities from outside of North America receive higher scores than their North American counterparts. Exhibit 1 presents the scorecard for each of the 61 cities.

Exhibit 1: Top 10 overall global cities urban agglomeration

Global Cities_000 Scorecard Grades_Top 10_500px

Click for complete table of all 61 cities.

Exhibit 1 displays that while European and North American cities are often thought of as global leaders when looking at their economic potential and quality of life, there are many cities throughout other parts of the world that received higher grades on our scorecard. Singapore, Seoul, and Cape Town for example are three cities that received high overall grades, while also scoring very highly on most of the four categories. These cities scored highly especially in regards to Talent, Technology, and Amenities. This is a trend for not just these cities as Exhibit 1 shows that while most cities gained good Talent and Amenities grades, the grades for Technology and usually Tolerance were often low. Many cities researched, received very low Tolerance grades despite having an abundance of talented individuals. Tolerance is an important indicator as it is a crucial attribute in attracting the Creative Class, and there are many other benefits to accepting different cultures, sexual orientations, religions, and ways of life. In many cases, certain cities would have landed much higher in the overall rankings if not for their low Tolerance grades. The individual report cards and explanations for each city can be found here.

Exhibit 2 applies a unique mapping system to our results for the first 61 global cities in which a world map displays the geography and rank of each city. By clicking an individual city either on the map or in the toggle bar at the bottom, a short profile of each city is provided, with a link to view that particular city’s full scorecard, which includes a detailed explanation of each score given. The map illustrates the large amount of global cities within North America, and the U.S. in particular, as many of the highest ranked cities are also located within North America. Only the 20 U.S. cities with the highest metropolitan GDP were included in the analysis. In terms of the concentration of global cities, Western Europe is home to the largest number of global cities within the smallest space, as this region provides a unique opportunity of clustered global cities. There are also a significant number of global cities within the technologically advanced region of Eastern Asia. As the Exhibit displays though, there are many regions of the world, some with extremely large populations in which little to no global cities are currently on our list. Many of these cities will be added over time.

Exhibit 2: Global Cities rankings map

Click for the full screen Global Cities interactive map

The role that Global Cities and their location will have on the future of economic prosperity of regions is something that we here at the MPI are continuing to examine. The Global Cities project, through the development of a methodology in which cities are ranked based upon the 3 T’s of economic development, along with quality of place presents, will help determine which cities and regions are best suited for future prosperity and why. This project is ongoing, with more cities that will be released, as this Insight presents the first 61. With the growth of the creative economy the global competition for talented, skilled people has intensified. This competition for people is complex in its nature, but understanding, ranking, and comparing cities from around the world helps us to better comprehend the global competition for talent.

Download this Insight (PDF)

The Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto‘s Rotman School of Management is the world’s leading think-tank on the role of sub-national factors — location, place and city-regions — in global economic prosperity. We take an integrated view of prosperity, looking beyond economic measures to include the importance of quality of place and the development of people’s creative potential.