A global city, also called a power city, world city, alpha city or world center, is a city which is a primary node in the global economic network. The concept comes from geography and urban studies, and the idea that globalization is created, facilitated, and enacted in strategic geographic locales according to a hierarchy of importance to the operation of the global system of finance and trade.
The most complex node is the "global city", with links binding it to other cities having a direct and tangible effect on global socio-economic affairs. The term "megacity" entered common use in the late 19th or early 20th centuries; one of the earliest documented uses of the term was by the University of Texas in 1904. The term "global city", rather than "megacity", was popularized by sociologist Saskia Sassen in her 1991 work, The Global City: New York, London, Tokyo. "World city", meaning a city heavily involved in global trade, appeared in the May 1886 description of Liverpool, by The Illustrated London News. Patrick Geddes later used the term "world city" in 1915. More recently, the term has focused on a city's financial power and high technology infrastructure, with other factors becoming less relevant.
- 1 Criteria
- 2 Rankings
- 3 See also
- 4 References
- 5 External links
Global city status is considered beneficial and desirable. Competing groups have developed multiple alternative methods to classify and rank world cities and to distinguish them from non-world cities. Although there is a consensus upon leading world cities, the chosen criteria affect which other cities are included. Selection criteria may be based on a yardstick value (e.g., if the producer-service sector is the largest sector then city X is a world city) or on an imminent determination (if the producer-service sector of city X is greater than the combined producer-service sectors of N other cities then city X is a world city.)
Cities can fall from ranking, as in the case of cities that have become less cosmopolitan and less internationally renowned in the current era.
Although criteria are variable and fluid, typical characteristics of world cities are:
- A variety of international financial services, notably in finance, insurance, real estate, banking, accountancy, and marketing
- Headquarters of several multinational corporations
- The existence of financial headquarters, a stock exchange, and major financial institutions
- Domination of the trade and economy of a large surrounding area
- Major manufacturing centres with port and container facilities
- Considerable decision-making power on a daily basis and at a global level
- Centres of new ideas and innovation in business, economics, culture, and politics
- Centres of media and communications for global networks
- Dominance of the national region with great international significance
- High percentage of residents employed in the services sector and information sector
- High-quality educational institutions, including renowned universities, international student attendance, and research facilities
- Multi-functional infrastructure offering some of the best legal, medical, and entertainment facilities in the country
- High diversity in language, culture, religion, and ideologies.
Global city rankings are numerous, with one study suggesting as many as 300. Ranked cities tend to be concentrated in North America and Europe.
Global Economic Power Index
In 2015, the second Global Economic Power Index, a meta list compiled by Richard Florida, was published by The Atlantic (distinct from a namesake list published by the Martin Prosperity Institute), with city composite rank based on five other lists.
Global Power City Index
The Institute for Urban Strategies at The Mori Memorial Foundation in Tokyo issued a comprehensive study of global cities in 2018. They are ranked based on six categories: economy, research and development, cultural interaction, livability, environment, and accessibility, with 70 individual indicators among them. The top ten world cities are also ranked by subjective categories including manager, researcher, artist, visitor and resident.
- Global Power City top 10:
Jon Beaverstock, Richard G. Smith and Peter J. Taylor established the Globalization and World Cities Research Network (GaWC). A roster of world cities in the GaWC Research Bulletin 5 is ranked by their connectivity through four "advanced producer services": accountancy, advertising, banking/finance, and law. The GaWC inventory identifies three levels of global cities and several sub-ranks, although the authors caution that "concern for city rankings operates against the spirit of the GaWC project" (emphasis in original).
The 2004 rankings added several new indicators while continuing to rank city economics more heavily than political or cultural factors. The 2008 roster, similar to the 1998 version, is sorted into categories of Alpha world cities (with four sub-categories), Beta world cities (three sub-categories), Gamma world cities (three sub-categories) and additional cities with High sufficiency or Sufficiency presence. The cities in the top two classifications in the 2018 edition are:
Global Cities Index
In 2008, the American journal Foreign Policy, in conjunction with the consulting firm A.T. Kearney and the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, published a ranking of global cities, based on consultation with Saskia Sassen, Witold Rybczynski, and others. Foreign Policy noted that "the world’s biggest, most interconnected cities help set global agendas, weather transnational dangers, and serve as the hubs of global integration. They are the engines of growth for their countries and the gateways to the resources of their regions." The ranking is based on 27 metrics across five dimensions: business activity, human capital, information exchange, cultural experience, and political engagement and was updated in 2010, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019. Since 2015 it has been published together with a separate index called the Global Cities Outlook: a projection of a city’s potential based on rate of change in 13 indicators across four dimensions: personal well-being, economics, innovation, and governance.
The Wealth Report
"The Wealth Report" (a global perspective on prime property and wealth) is made by the London-based estate agent Knight Frank LLP together with the Citi Private Bank. The report includes a "Global Cities Survey", evaluating which cities are considered the most important to the world’s HNWIs (high-net-worth individuals, having over $25 million of investable assets). For the Global Cities Survey, Citi Private Bank’s wealth advisors, and Knight Frank’s luxury property specialists were asked to name the cities that they felt were the most important to HNWIs, in regard to: "economic activity", "political power", "knowledge and influence" and "quality of life".
Global City Competitiveness Index
In 2012, the Economist Intelligence Unit (The Economist Group) ranked the competitiveness of global cities according to their demonstrated ability to attract capital, businesses, talent and visitors.
Schroders Global Cities Index
Global Cities Initiative
A study by Brookings Institution conducted in 2016 introduced its own typology defining global cities into seven categories: Global Giants, Asian Anchors, Emerging Gateways, Factory China, Knowledge Capitals, American Middleweights, and International Middleweights 
The Global Giants classification includes wealthy, extremely large metro areas that the largest cities from developed nations. They are hubs for financial markets, major corporations, and serve as key nodes in global capital and talent flows.
- Sassen, Saskia - The global city: strategic site/new frontier Archived 18 October 2006 at the Wayback Machine
- "Hemisfile: perspectives on political and economic trends in the Americas". 5–8. Institute of the Americas. 1904: 12. Retrieved 16 July 2015. Cite journal requires
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- Doel, M. & Hubbard, P., (2002), "Taking World Cities Literally: Marketing the City in a Global Space of flows", City, vol. 6, no. 3, pp. 351–68. Subscription required
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- GaWC Research Bulletin 5 Archived 8 August 2011 at the Wayback Machine, GaWC, Loughborough University, 28 July 1999
- Pashley, Rosemary. "HSC Geography". Pascal Press, 2000, p.164
- J.V. Beaverstock, World City Networks 'From Below' Archived 8 March 2006 at the Wayback Machine, GaWC, Loughborough University, 29 September 2010
- K. O'Connor, International Students and Global Cities Archived 5 February 2006 at the Wayback Machine, GaWC, Loughborough University, 17 February 2005
- "Decoding City Performance". www.jll.co.uk. Retrieved 16 October 2019.
- Richard Florida (3 March 2015). "Sorry, London: New York Is the World's Most Economically Powerful City". The Atlantic Monthly Group. Archived from the original on 14 March 2015. Retrieved 16 March 2015.
Our new ranking puts the Big Apple firmly on top.
- "The Top 10 most powerful cities in the world". Yahoo! India Finance. 11 May 2012. Archived from the original on 18 March 2013. Retrieved 19 June 2013.
- "Global Power City Index 2018". Tokyo, Japan: Institute for Urban Strategies at The Mori Memorial Foundation. 18 October 2018. Archived from the original on 3 March 2019. Retrieved 16 March 2019. Cite journal requires
- "The World According to GaWC Archived 30 November 2012 at the Wayback Machine". GaWC. Retrieved 21 November 2012.
- Taylor, P.J. "Measuring the World City Network: New Results and Developments". Archived from the original on 29 September 2018. Retrieved 1 November 2018.
- "The World According to GaWC 2018". GaWC. 13 November 2018. Archived from the original on 9 May 2019. Retrieved 12 August 2019.
- "2012 Global Cities Index and Emerging Cities Outlook". Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 October 2013. Retrieved 9 May 2012.
- The main parameters are "Business activity" (30%), "Human capital" (30%), "Information exchange" (15%), "Cultural experience" (15%) and "Political engagement" (10%)."The 2008 Global Cities Index". Foreign Policy (November/December 2008). 21 October 2008. Archived from the original on 7 January 2010. Retrieved 31 October 2008.
- "Read @ATKearney: Una Cuestión de Talento: Cómo el Capital Humano Determinará los Próximos Líderes Mundiales". www.atkearney.com. Retrieved 16 October 2019.
- "A.T. Kearney: Global Cities 2017". Archived from the original on 12 March 2017. Retrieved 22 February 2017.
- "The Wealth Report 2015". Knight Frank LLP. Archived from the original on 18 June 2015. Retrieved 18 June 2015.
- "Global Cities Survey" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 23 March 2015. Retrieved 18 June 2015.
- "Benchmarking global city competitiveness" (PDF). Economist Intelligence Unit. Economist Intelligence Unit. Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 July 2014.
- Schroders Global Cities Index - Schroders, 2019
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