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Sunday, August 11, 2013

World's Successful Cities

   John Redwood has posted on this. His bias (or perhaps the negative of my bias) is towards London which is, by most standards, doing well. My negative being that it is a capital city so it is no surprise that it does better than its hinterland.

"The world’s economic advance is increasingly spearheaded by the great cities of the world. Europe only has two of them, London and Paris (and there is Moscow). The USA has several, whilst rising Asia is pitting  its traditionally successful city states against a new tide of fast growing cities in India, China and elsewhere.

If we look at the OECD list of richest regions in the world as measured by GDP per head, it is led by London (Inner west) at a mighty $152,116 a head. The District of Columbia around  Washington USA comes second, at $131,343. Paris is the best of the continental cities, at a very successful $76,146 for the city as a whole. Edinburgh appears high up with $49,970, parts of the UK Home counties do well and Inner London east is there at $47,470.

...... To succeed a world city needs to encompass a population of  around 10 million in the city proper and close surroundings. It needs to be very open to talent and money from outside. It needs to have premium properties available for foreigners to buy. It needs a  great ambience, plenty of good high specification modern commercial space, and preferably some iconic older buildings and symbols of the city. It has to have great food, great drama.

My comment:

"Unfortunately of the cities you single out all of them – London, Paris, Washington & Edinburgh are capital cities, ie magnets to top civil servants and the leaders of large companies that want to schmooze them. Washington in particular has no raison d’etre outwith government. This is not a model that has general applications.

From this list of the top 25 I have extracted those that are not capitals of hinterlands
(Singapore is capital only of itself)

2. New York – 389,000
5. Frankfurt – 217,000
7. Osaka – 190,000
8. Hong Kong – 187,000
9. Shanghai – 166,000
10. Singapore – 157,000
12. Munich – 130,000
14. Los Angeles – 126,000
15. Toronto – 118,000
16. Chicago – 107,000
17. Sydney – 104,000
18. Houston – 103,000

What do they mostly have in common – fairly entrepreneurial, good rule of law mostly ports, perhaps tending towards good weather but not overwhelmingly so, several but not all have famous opera houses or museums, ethnic peace though not homogeneity, all cities people have heard of, cleanliness.

If anybody can think of other common factors I would be interested to hear of them.

When looking to see how a city can be successful it is worth removing the most common feature (being a capital) to see what common features remain.

     This is not yet developing a formula for making a city/region/Scotland particularly successful but it does point to some factors that would help. I'm not sure I agree with John's assessment that a 10 million population is required, because I am aiming at a region that satisfies its population's needs not necessarily the needs of would be immigrants, but again this may be that my prejudices are different from his.

     Overall free marketism, which includes being free to build; peace; quality entertainment; clean streets; and some iconic architecture. We could do that.

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Isn't Munich capital of Bavaria? Sydney certainly is of NSW.
OK I probably should have limited it to capitals of separate states, which would have excluded John's mention of Edinburgh. Perhaps I can justify myself by saying that Scotland's state sector is so big that Edinburgh being the capital is as important as the others but I think I should put it down to my national chauvinism.
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This valuable response on Redwood's (applys to 8 out of 12)


Posted August 11, 2013 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

The English language, legal systems/historical connections are well represented in the list.

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