What do top cities have in common?

22 September 2016

September 2016 sees the release of Cities of Opportunity 7, PwC’s latest glimpse into the state of some of the world’s great cities. For the second edition running, London comes out top, this time followed by runners-up Singapore and Toronto.

The study is a highly-respected benchmark of the social and economic health of some of the planet’s best-known cities, tracking their performance against 67 measures grouped into 10 indicator families including transportation and infrastructure, ease of doing business, demographics and liveability, technology readiness and cost.

London maintains its position at the head of the pack after rising to the top for the first time in the sixth edition, extending its lead against its close rivals and ranking in the top 3 in six of the study’s ten indicators. Singapore and Toronto both rise one place in edition 7 to finish second and third respectively, with Paris overcoming both economic pressure and terrorist attacks to rise two places to fourth. Amsterdam, a newcomer to the study this year, rounds out the top 5. New York’s fall to sixth this edition marks the first time the Big Apple has finished outside the top two positions in the study, with the city scoring lower than its peers in many of this year’s newly-introduced measures and being overtaken by other cities’ gains in existing variables.

The study seeks to show that balance is the key to the most successful cities, which succeed not only when they perform well economically, but when they manage to provide a range of social features, including good quality of life, senior wellbeing, housing, and disaster preparedness - each of which demonstrates a strong relationship with better performance in the Cities of Opportunity ranking. Bob Moritz, Chairman of the global PwC network, commented that having the correct “social, economic and physical” infrastructure will help build a city’s resilience regardless of the challenges it faces.

“Over half the world’s population live in cities, and they represent engines of global or regional economies,” he added. “A good life is not a luxury in these cities, it’s a basic requirement for cities and businesses to get and keep talent. Strong performing cities are those planning and providing across all the measures of the long-term quality of life of its citizens.”  

As the report’s methodology and data is based mostly on the two years before the UK’s decision to exit the European Union, the Brexit vote does not affect London’s position in this year’s study. However, detail in the report’s wide ranging measurements give an early indication of both the city’s international strengths and areas it will have to compete on post-Brexit. This message won’t be lost either on similar European and international city competitors seeking opportunities to challenge London’s position at the top of the ranking in the years to come.

Cities of Opportunity 7 is based on research conducted by r2i, PwC’s global centre of excellence for research, using publicly available data collected from three main sources: global multilateral development organisations such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund; national statistics organisations, such as National Statistics in the UK and the Census Bureau in the US; and commercial data providers. The data was collected during the third and fourth quarters of 2015.

For more information or to download the report, visit the PwC Cities website or search #CitiesPwC on Twitter.

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