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New York remains THE global city.

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Chicago: New York and London remain the world's most global cities according to the 2012 A.T. Kearney Global Cities Index, but Beijing and Shanghai may rival them in 10 to 20 years.

The Global Cities Index, conducted every two years since 2008, provides a unique measure of global engagement for 66 cities across five dimensions--Business Activity, Human Capital, Information Exchange, Cultural Experience, and Political Engagement. The 2012 Global Cities Index was developed by A.T. Kearney and The Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

Rachel Bronson, Chicago Council on Global Affairs Vice President of Studies noted, " While most other city rankings limit their focus to business or quality of life measures, the Global Cities Index provides a holistic look at what differentiates cities in generating, attracting and retaining global capital, people, and ideas."

The 2012 edition of the Global Cities Index includes the Emerging Cities Outlook 2012, a forward looking measurement of emerging cities that have the potential to improve their global standing in future years. Beijing, Shanghai and Taipei top this newly introduced perspective.

Mike Hales, A.T. Kearney partner and study co-leader commented, "The Global Cities Index is a tool that business executives can use to identify locations for regional headquarters that have the potential to attract and retain top talent. Many cities are also using the Global Cities Index to benchmark their development initiatives."

Findings from the 2012 Global Cities Index

Despite the financial turmoil of the past few years, New York and London have consistently led the rankings in all three editions of the Global Cities Index. Paris (#3) and Tokyo (#4), although they alternate positions this year, are always far above the rest of the top ten. The top four cities demonstrate that having a balanced portfolio of strengths across several dimensions of globalization allows these cities to hold their positions at the top of the Index despite the recent global financial turmoil.

Germany is the only European country with three cities ranking in the top half of the 2012 Index, although no German city has ever been ranked among the top 10 Global Cities. One of the linchpins of the Global Cities Ranking is the notion that globalization represents a transfer of power from national states to a network of global cities. Germany demonstrates this concept with Berlin (#20), Frankfurt (#23), and Munich (#31) representing a network of cities that should drive continued national success.

Cities in the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) continue to work their way to the top of the Index at varying paces. Similar to their performance in prior Index rankings, the BRIC cities' rise is driven by their strength in business activity, rather than the other dimensions that make for a more well-rounded global city. Strong business activity should drive future development of the other dimensions, leading to the development of cultural institutions and international policy institutes.

Findings from the Emerging Cities Outlook 2012

The Emerging Cities Outlook gauges each city's rate of change by measuring factors that will affect the future of two Index dimensions: Business Activity and Human Capital. These two dimensions drive a city's capacity to attract, retain and generate flows of ideas, capital and people. The rate of change is measured because it can be an indicator of future movement rather than current status. Change is also captured using factors that reflect both strengths and vulnerabilities. The top cities in the Emerging Cities Outlook can expect to move into the top rankings of the Global Cities Index within the next 10 to 20 years.

Emerging Cities Outlook 2012

  • 1.Beijing
  • 2.Shanghai
  • 3.Taipei
  • 4.Chongqing
  • 5.Shenzhen
  • 6.Guangzhou
  • 7.Bogota
  • 8.Dhaka
  • 9.Ho Chi Minh City
  • 10.Bangalore

Chinese cities are better positioned to improve because thriving economies, a growing middle class, and infrastructure investment are pushing these cities toward an increased global presence. Beijing and Shanghai have the highest strength scores in this analysis.

Indian cities are showing potential, but they have a more balanced positioning of strengths and vulnerabilities. Kolkata, New Delhi, Bangalore, and Mumbai are grouped near the center of the ranking because the trends in their economic indicators still lag those of Chinese cities.

African cities will struggle to gain global presence in the foreseeable future because weak economic development and significant vulnerabilities are critical impediments. Nairobi and Lagos are among the most vulnerable cities in this analysis. A growing middle class gives Johannesburg a comparatively better position in the ranking.

Latin American cities hold varied positions in the Outlook ranking. Bogota ranks seventh due to improvements in infrastructure and reductions in instability and corruption. Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro appear poised to maintain their global positioning, with balanced opportunities and risks. Caracas, impacted by negative economic factors, increasing instability and corruption, presents a more vulnerable position.

Andres Mendoza-Peña, A.T. Kearney principal and co-leader of the study commented, "To improve their performance, today's and tomorrow's leading global cities will need to stay on top of changes in the many dimensions that constitute global leadership."

For a copy of a summarizing the A.T. Kearney Global Cities Index go here.

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