City indices are now devised and sponsored by nearly every kind of actor and institution operating in the urban field. Their careful analysis provides a unique angle on city trends, patterns of growth and investment, and the effects of political, regulatory or strategic change. Indices, especially when viewed as a whole, give unique insight into the development cycles of cities, their achievements versus their peers, the gaps in their competitive offer, and their strategic priorities for the future.
In the 21st century, the pace at which new cities arrive on the global scene is faster than ever. There are now 135 metropolitan areas worldwide with nominal GDP above US$100bn, nearly half of which are located in the emerging world. These cities vary enormously in size, wealth, investment capacity and institutional framework. There is more than a tenfold differential in average income between the poorest (Mumbai, Cairo) and richest cities (Macau, San Jose). There is an even greater variation in size, from city regions of just 2 million people (Zurich) to megalopolises of over 30 million (Tokyo, Jakarta). The sum total of these metropolitan economies, (US$34tn), represents a remarkable 37% of global GDP.1 The assets and performance of these cities are therefore absolutely fundamental to the global economy, yet the science of understanding and measuring them is only just emerging.
It has never been more important to understand city performance. The ability of cities to attract investment, manage their growth and deliver quality of life will define the character and, ultimately, the success of the ‘metropolitan century’.2 One important resource to track city performance, perception and progress is the huge body of city indices, benchmarks and rankings.
This report, the 4th developed by The Business of Cities, assembles the widest range of comparative studies and reports on city performance to date. It includes 200 indices in total, up from 160 in 2013. City indices are now devised and sponsored by nearly every kind of actor and institution operating in the urban field – including international institutions, business consultancies, research foundations, industry specialists, media outlets, and many more.
Download The Business of Cities 2015