Forty-two of the world’s top 100 economic entities are cities, says a new report from the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, illustrating how cities command a significant share of global economic output and could better harness their economic power to influence global policy.
“Cities have long been a key part of the global economy, but this analysis – which shows that some cities outpace even nations and the world’s largest multinational corporations – suggests cities have the might to shake up the global world order,” said Brian T. Hanson, vice president of studies at the Council.
The report, “100 Top Economies: Urban Influence and the Economic Position of Cities in an Evolving World Order,” ranks the world’s largest economies using national GDP, metropolitan GDP and annual corporate revenue data from the World Bank, Brookings and Forbes. The analysis is part of the Council’s leading efforts to examine the influence of global cities and how they are on the front lines of the world’s most pressing challenges and at the center of the most innovative solutions. The Council explores these dynamics in depth including through its flagship Chicago Forum on Global Cities, which it hosts annually in partnership with the Financial Times.
Among the 42 cities on the world’s top 100 economies list, Tokyo, New York, and Los Angeles rank No. 14, 19, and 27 respectively. Tokyo has the single largest GDP of any city, besting the output of both Saudi Arabia and Canada in 2014, and joining New York as a global city with a GDP north of $1 trillion. Other highly ranked cities include Seoul-Incheon (28), London (29), Paris (32), Osaka-Kobe (35), Shanghai (38), Chicago (39), and Moscow (41). The largest multi-national corporation, Wal-Mart Stores, is ranked No. 50. North America and Asia have the most cities among the rankings, with the United States and China having 12 and eight respectively.
As world leaders convene next week for the Habitat III meetings in Ecuador, this report makes clear that many cities highly ranked on the list are outsized economic engines, with an average share of overall national GDP that is nearly 1.5 times greater than their share of the national population.
“Cities’ large share of global economic output, and their disproportionate share of national GDP, could potentially underpin their expanding political influence,” said Noah Toly, the report author and senior fellow at the Council on Global Affairs. “As cities expand economically, we should see an increase in their participation in policy and governance debates, both nationally and internationally.”
The report also notes risks to top cities. Of the 42 ranked metros, more than half are on or near the coast – strategic locations for trade that are now at risk from rising sea levels. The issue of climate change alone is enough, the report argues, for cities to seek to translate their economic might into policymaking power. Cities also must confront intractable issues within their borders, including economic and social inequality, or risk their ability to leverage their economic influence on the global stage, the report contends.
Read the full report here.
Generous support for the Chicago Council on Global Affairs’ research on global cities is provided by the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.