In 1959, only 30% of the world’s population lived in cities.
A century later, that will be flipped. By 2050, in is expected that 70% of all people will live in cities, and just 30% will live in rural areas.
It’s been a boom to global growth and the economy. In fact, McKisney estimates that the top 600 urban centers generate an incredible 60% of the world’s total GDP.
Types of Megacities
With so many people moving to urban metropolitan areas, the complexion of cities and their economies change each day.
The Brookings Institute has a new way of classifying these megacities, using various economic indicators.
1. Global Giants (New York City, Los Angeles, Paris, London, Tokyo, Osaka-Kobe)
These six cities are the world’s leading economic and financial centers. They are hubs for financial markets and are characterized by a large population and a high concentration of wealth and talent.
2. Asian Anchors (Singapore, Moscow, Hong Kong, Seoul, Shanghai, Beijing)
3. Emerging Gateways (Warsaw, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Busan-Ulsan, Brasilia, Nanjing, Monterrey, Wuhan, Hangzhou, Istanbul, Tianjin, Sain Petersburg, Ningbo, Santiago, Sao Paulo, Katowice, Ankara, Jinan, Mexico City, Johannesburg, Rio de Janeiro, Pretoria, East Rand, Xian, Delhi, Cape Town, Chongqing, Mumbai)
These 28 cities are large business and transportation hubs for major national and regional markets in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. While they have grown to reach middle-income status, the fall behind their global peers on many key competitiveness factors such as GDP and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).
4. Factory China (Wuxi, Suzhou, Dalian, Changsha, Foshan, Changzhou, Qingdao, Shenyang, Zibo, Yantai, Hefei, Tangshan, Nantong, Zhengzhou, Dongguan, Fuzhou, Changchun, Chengdu, Xuzhou, Haerbin, Shijiazhuang, Wenzhou)
These are 22 second and third-tier Chinese cities reliant on export manufacturing to power economic growth and international engagement. Although Factory China displays a GDP growth rate that is well above average, it fails to reach average levels of innovation, talent, and connectivity.
5. Knowledge Capitals (San Jose, Hartford, San Francisco, Boston, Seattle, Houston, Washington, Zurich, Portland, San Diego, Minneapolis, Dallas, Stockholm, Denver, Baltimore, Chicago, Philadelphia, Austin, Atlanta)
These are 19 mid-sized cities in the United States and Europe that are considered centers of innovation, with elite research universities producing talented workforces.
6. American Middleweights (Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, Cleveland, Columbus, Sacramento, Charlotte, Cincinnati, Kansas City, Orlando, St. Louis, Detroit, San Antonio, Tampa, Miami, Phoenix, Riverside)
These 16 mid-sized U.S. metro areas that are relatively wealthy and house strong universities, as well as other anchor institutions.
7. International Middleweights (Perth, Munich, Stuttgart, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Amsterdam, Brussels, Vienna, Karlsruhe, Sydney, Copenhagen, Milan, Madrid, Toronto, Cologne, Rome, Vancouver, Melbourne, Berlin, Barcelona, Nagoya, Tel Aviv, Montreal, Athens, Kitakyushu, Birmingham)
The 26 International Middleweights span across several continents, internationally connected by human and investment capital flow. Like their American middleweight counterparts, growth has slowed for these cities since the 2008 recession.
– Map of the Global Cities index