A global city (also called world city or sometimes alpha city or world center) is a city generally considered to be an important node in the global economic system. The concept comes from geography and urban studies and rests on the idea that globalization can be understood as largely 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 of these entities is the "global city", whereby the linkages binding a city have a direct and tangible effect on global affairs through socio-economic means. The use of "global city", as opposed to "megacity", was popularized by sociologist Saskia Sassen in her 1991 work, The Global City: New York, London, Tokyo though the term "world city" to describe cities that control a disproportionate amount of global business dates to at least the May 1886 description of Liverpool by The Illustrated London News. Patrick Geddes also used the term "world city" later in 1915. Cities can fall from such categorization, as in the case of cities that have become less cosmopolitan and less internationally renowned in the current era, e.g., Alexandria, Egypt; Coimbra, Portugal; Stralsund, Germany and Thessaloniki, Greece.
Global city status is considered to be beneficial and desired, and because of this many groups have tried to classify and rank which cities are seen as world cities or non-world cities. Although there is a consensus upon leading world cities, the criteria upon which a classification is made can affect which other cities are included. The criteria for identification tend either to 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.)
- Serve as the corporate headquarter sites for multinational corporations, international financial institutions, law firms, conglomerates, and stock exchanges that influence the world economy
- Contribute significant financial capacity/output to the city's, region's, or even nation's, Gross domestic product (GDP)
- House the major stock market indices/market capitalisation
- Provide a variety of international financial services, notably in the FIRE industries, banking, accountancy, and marketing
- Appear near the top of cost of living
- Active influence on, and participation in, international events and world affairs; for example, Beijing, Berlin, London, Moscow, New Delhi, Paris, Tokyo, and Washington, D.C. are capitals of influential nations.
- Hosting headquarters for international organizations such as the United Nations (New York City), the World Bank (Washington, D.C.), or NATO (Brussels).
- A large city proper, population of the municipality (the centre of a metropolitan area, typically several million) or agglomeration
- Diverse demographic constituencies based on various indicators: population, habitat, mobility, and urbanisation
- Quality of life standards or city development
- Expatriate communities
- Renowned cultural institutions (often with high endowments), such as notable museums and galleries, notable opera companies, major ballet companies, orchestras, notable film centres, and theatre centres. A lively cultural scene, including film festivals (such as the Toronto International Film Festival), premieres, a thriving music scene, nightlife, an opera company, art galleries, street performers, and annual parades.
- Several influential media organisations with an international reach, including Thomson Reuters, Bloomberg, The New York Times, International Herald Tribune, Agence France-Presse, or Associated Press.
- A strong sporting community, including major sports facilities, home teams in major league sports, and the ability and historical experience to host international sporting events such as the Olympic Games, FIFA World Cup, or Grand Slam tennis events.
- Educational institutions; e.g., renowned universities, international student attendance, research facilities
- Sites of pilgrimage for world religions (for example, Mecca, Jerusalem or Rome)
- Cities containing World Heritage Sites of historical and cultural significance
- Tourism throughout
- City as site or subject in arts and media, television, film, video games, music, literature, magazines, articles, documentary
- City as an often repeated historic reference, showcase, or symbolic actions
- An advanced transportation system that includes several highways and/or a large mass transit network offering multiple modes of transportation (rapid transit, light rail, regional rail, ferry, or bus).
- Extensive and popular mass transit systems, prominent rail usage, road vehicle usage, major seaports
- A major international airport that serves as an established hub for several international airlines. Airports with significant passenger traffic and international passengers traffic or cargo movements.
- An advanced communications infrastructure on which modern trans-national corporations rely, such as fiberoptics, Wi-Fi networks, cellular phone services, and other high-speed lines of communications. For example, Seoul and Tokyo are known as the digital and technology capitals of the world.
- Health facilities; e.g., hospitals, medical laboratories
- Prominent skylines/skyscrapers (for example, Hong Kong, New York City, Shanghai, Tokyo, Dubai, Chicago, Guangzhou, Bangkok, Shenzhen, Singapore)
- Cities' telephone and mail services, airport flights-range, traffic congestion, availability of water, train facilities, nearby parks, hospitals, libraries, police stations, etc.
The first attempt to define, categorize and rank global cities using relational data was made in 1998 by Jon Beaverstock, Richard G. Smith and Peter J. Taylor, who all worked at the time at Loughborough University in the United Kingdom. Further by academic researchers like Ronald Daus in Germany (Free University of Berlin), who focused on "extra-European cities, predominantly in the Southern hemisphere". Together, Beaverstock, Smith and Taylor established the Globalization and World Cities Research Network. A roster of world cities was outlined in the GaWC Research Bulletin 5 and ranked cities based on 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.
The 2004 rankings acknowledged 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 following is a general guide to the rankings:
- Alpha++ cities are New York City and London, which are vastly more integrated with the global economy than any other cities.
- Alpha+ cities complement London and New York by filling advanced service niches for the global economy.
- Alpha & Alpha- cities are cities that link major economic regions into the world economy.
- Beta level cities are cities that link moderate economic regions into the world economy.
- Gamma level cities are cities that link smaller economic regions into the world economy.
- Sufficiency level cities are cities that have a sufficient degree of services so as to not be obviously dependent on world cities.
The 2010 roster of leading world cities and "sufficient" cities is as follows:
Global Cities Index
In 2008, the American journal Foreign Policy, in conjunction with the Chicago-based 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 was updated in 2010 and 2012.
|1||New York City||6.35|
|53||4||Rio de Janeiro||1.31|
|61||Ho Chi Minh City||0.72|
Global Economic Power Index
In 2012, the first Global Economic Power Index, a "survey of the surveys" written by Richard Florida, was published by The Atlantic (to be differentiated from a namesake list published by the Martin Prosperity Institute), with cities ranked according to criteria reflecting their presence on similar lists as published by other entities:
|1||New York City||48|
Global Power City Index
The Institute for Urban Strategies at The Mori Memorial Foundation in Tokyo issued a comprehensive study of global cities in 2012. The ranking is based on six overall categories, "Economy", "Research & Development", "Cultural Interaction", "Livability", "Environment", and "Accessibility", with 70 individual indicators among them. This Japanese ranking also breaks down top ten world cities ranked in subjective categories such as "manager, researcher, artist, visitor and resident."
|2||New York City||1376.6|
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 City Survey", evaluating which cities are considered the most important to the world’s HNWIs (high-net-worth individuals, having over $25million of investable assets). For the Global City 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".
|1||New York City||1||7||6||2|
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.
|1||New York City||71.4|
|76||Rio de Janeiro||44.9|
|109||Ho Chi Minh City||36.5|
- Megalopolis (city type)
- List of cities by GDP
- Primate city
- Financial centre
- Ranally city rating system
- Index of urban studies articles
- Sassen, Saskia - The global city: strategic site/new frontier
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- 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. Retrieved 2008-10-31.
- Richard Florida (2012-05-08). "What Is the World's Most Economically Powerful City?". The Atlantic Monthly Group. Retrieved 2013-03-28.
- Global Power City Index 2012. Tokyo, Japan: Institute for Urban Strategies at The Mori Memorial Foundation. October, 2012.
- "The Wealth Report 2013". Knight Frank LLP.
- "The Global City Competitiveness Index". Managementthinking.eiu.com. 12 March 2012. Retrieved 9 May 2012.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Global City|
- Repository of Links Relating to Urban Places
- The World-System’s City System: A Research Agenda by Jeffrey Kentor and Michael Timberlake of the University of Utah and David Smith of University of California, Irvine
- The State of the World's Cities, 2001, UN Human Settlements Programme