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Song Rui: Which cities are the most competitive in the world?

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      As has been noted, Global Urban Competitiveness (GUC) is the ability of a city to attract and utilize resources, provide goods and services, create wealth and provide its citizens with the society and economy to which they aspire, more effectively than other cities in the world. Based on this definition, we collected data on 9 indices including GDP, GDP per capita, labor productivity, number of multinational companies, number of internationally recognized patent applications, price advantage, economic growth rate and employment rate. We calculated the Global Urban Competitiveness Index (GUCI) for 500 cities around the world.  These 500 cities are distributed in over 130 countries and regions in 5 continents, and since all 9 indices use objective data to measure the general performance and wealth creation of each city, we can gain insights into the development and competitiveness of cities around the world by comparing and analyzing the GUCI of these 500 cities, including the specific components in the indices. The main findings are provided in this chapter.

World cities are top cities and hi-tech centers are among the leaders

       World cities and global hi-tech centers are the most competitive among all cities.New York,LondonandTokyoare the top three cities in terms of the GUCI. The top 20 include world cities such asParis,Washington,Los Angeles,Singapore,Chicago,Toronto,SeoulandMadrid, as well as well-known global hi-tech centers, such asStockholm,San Francisco,Boston,San Diego,Auckland,HelsinkiandVienna.

North American cities have higher ranks than European and Asian cities

       Among the top 20 global competitive cities, 10, or one-half, are in North America and 7 or 35% inEurope. All together, the North American and European cities account for 90% of the top 20 cities. Only 3 cities are inAsia. None of the top 20 cities are in Oceania, South America andAfrica.  Among the top 150 global competitive cities, 59 are in North America, accounting for 84.3% of the sample cities in the region; 52 are in Europe, accounting for 36.4%; 27 are in Asia, accounting for 14.9%; 6 are in Latin America, accounting for 10%; and 6 are in Oceania, accounting for 50%. Again, none of the African cities is on the list of top 150.       

      Among the bottom 150 cities, 46 are in Europe, accounting for 32.2% of the sample cities of the region; 62 are in Asia, accounting for 34.3%; 11 are in Latin America, accounting for 19%; 1 is in Oceania, accounting for 8.3%; and 30 are in Africa, accounting for 83.3%. No North American city is found on this list.  A comparison of the cities in different continents indicates that, in general, North American cities have the highest GUCI rankings, followed by European cities. Some of the Asian cities have considerable potential, while cities in Latin America (including the Caribbean region) andAfricahave weaker competitiveness, and those in Sub-Sahara regions are the least competitive.

 

World cities, hi-tech centers and national centers are top cities in each continent

       Among the top 10 cities in North America, 9 are in theUnited Statesand 1, one of which isToronto, inCanada. Most of these cities are national/regional political and economic centers, or major hi-tech centers in theUnited StatesandCanada(See Table 5.2).  

Among the Asian and Middle Eastern top 10 cities, 3 are inJapanand2 inChina(includingHong Kong).Singapore,South Korea,Israel,United Arab EmiratesandQatareach have one city on the list.  This indicates that cities of the developed nations in Asia and the Middle East, i.e., Japan andIsrael(4 intotal), remain the most competitive, followed by those in emerging industrialized countries (3 intotal) inAsia.  In addition, cities in the oil producing countries in West Asia and inChina, which is a developing country, are fairly competitive, too.

 In Europe, 3 of the top 10 cities are in Western Europe,2 inNorthern Europe,3 inCEu,1 inSouthern Europe and1 inSoutheastern Europe. None of the cities is inEastern Europe. Most of these cities are capital cities or economic centers of developed nations

Cities of developed countries are more competitive while central cities of newly industrializing and transitional countries have higher potential

       A comparison of the distribution of the 500 cities by country shows that 10 of the top 20 cities are in the United States, accounting for 17.5% of all USsample cities. Six are in EU, accounting for 8.1%. Canada, Japan, South Koreaand Singaporeeach have one top 20 city, accounting for 7.7%, 4.5%, 14.3% and 100% of their total sample cities respectively (Singaporeis a city-state).  Among the top 150 cities, 50 are in the United states, accounting for 87.7% of the sample cities of the nation; 13 inBritain, accounting for 72.2%; 11 inGermany, accounting for 64.7%; 10 inJapan, accounting for 45.5%; 9 inCanada, accounting for 69.2%; 5 inFrance, accounting for 62.5%; 3 inItaly, accounting for 33.3%.  Among BRICs,China has 7 cities on the list, accounting for 15.3% of its sample cities;Russia andIndia have one each, accounting for 2.3% and 2% of their respective sample cities. No Brazilian city is in the top 150 list . All the remaining 149 cities are in developing countries and countries in transition. Specifically, 44 are inRussia, accounting for 88% of its sample cities; 36 are inIndia, accounting for 83.7%; 5 are inChina, accounting for 8.1%;and 2 are inBrazil, accounting for 13.3%.  In general, cities of developed countries are more competitive, while central cities of newly industrializing or transitional countries have higher potential.  Cities of the least developed countries are generally not competitive, except that a few have moderate competitiveness. 

A few countries show distinct national characteristics in competitiveness while most countries have substantial gaps in GUCI among their cities.

       In Britain, the cities generally rank high. London tops the country list, and Liverpool is at the bottom. Between them, there are 186 other global cities distributed evenly. For Brazil, Sao Paulo is at the top and Port Alegre at the bottom of the list, with 163 other cities distributing evenly between them. In general, the ranks of Brazilian cities are low.  With the largest number of entries in the top 150, US cities are highly competitive in general. However, those at the bottom of the country list are no more competitive than some cities in developing countries. For example, the bottom two on the US country list, Wichita and Raleigh ranked the 205th and 245th respectively on the global list. Between New York, the top ranking city and Raleigh, the lowest ranking, there are 244 other cities distributing evenly between the first and 245th, with an average gap of 4.28.  In the case of Russia, the best performing city Moscow is separated by 120 other cities from the second best, St. Petersburg on the global list, and by 468 cities from the worst performing city Grozny. However, 96% of the Russian entries rank between the 300th and 498th. Similar cases include India, whose cities are widely separated on the global list, but mostly distributed in different sections evenly.  Italy has two entries in the top 100 and one below 300.  Most of its cities rank between the 100th and 300th, in a quasi-normal distribution.  Japan is more or less a similar case too, with 5 entries in the top 100 and 4 below the 250th.  This indicates that while the competitiveness gap between cities is narrow in some countries, the gap is wide in most countries. In a few countries, the GUCI ranks are in normal distribution.