City Rankings: The Datapoints

Now that MasterCard’s ranking of the "75 Worldwide Centers of Commerce" has been released, it’s fun to pick out some datapoints.

  • The scores rank from 79.17 (London) down to 26.11 (Caracas). Only two cities (London and New York) manage a score in the 70s. Eight, including Amsterdam, manage a score in the 60s.
  • Four of the top ten cities (New York, Chicago, Hong Kong, and Frankfurt) are not capital cities. Washington comes in 36th, Berlin is 23rd – astonishingly beating Munich, which is 27th. Beijing is 57th.
  • Other prominent cities which beat out their capitals: Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Boston, Atlanta, San Francisco, Houston, and Dallas all come higher on the list than Washington. Sydney is 12th and Melbourne is 41st; Canberra isn’t on the list. Toronto is 13th, followed distantly by Montreal (32nd) and Vancouver (37th); again, unsurprisingly, Ottawa is nowhere to be found. Milan, in 20th place, easily beats Rome, in 47th. Shanghai gets 24th place while Beijing only makes it to 57th. Mumbai, in 48th place, beats New Delhi, in 61st. Sao Paulo and Rio make the list, Brasilia, of course, doesn’t. More interestingly, Johannesburg is on the list while Cape Town isn’t.
  • The USA has more cities on the list than any other country (11, all of them in the top 40). China has six, if you include Hong Kong: the others are Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen, Chengdu, and Chongqing. Germany has five (Frankfurt, Berlin, Munich, Hamburg, Dusseldorf); then comes Canada, with three.
  • Europe, all told, has 27 cities on the list; North America has 15. Which means that between them they have 42, or 56%. But I’m sure it wouldn’t have been hard to include a lot more US and European cities which, if they had been scored, would have come much higher than the likes of Jakarta and Beirut. This isn’t meant to be the top 75 cities, so much as a way of comparing some cities to others.
  • What are the most livable cities? Number one is Vancouver, followed by, of all cities, Dusseldorf! Then San Francisco, Frankfurt, Vienna, Munich, Zurich, Tokyo, Copenhagen, and Paris. Bottom of the list, by far, is Riyadh. Guess it didn’t score too well on the "personal freedom" and "quality of life" metrics. The least livable city in the top 10 is Seoul.
  • The top BRIC city is Hong Kong, in 6th place. Shanghai’s 24th. Mumbai is in 48th place; Moscow’s in 51st; and Sao Paulo is 56th.

The main conclusion I draw from all this is that London and New York really are superstar cities compared to everybody else. It really doesn’t matter if you’re a capital city or not, but if you want to rise up the list, you’re going to have to spend a lot of money on infrastructure. Not skyscrapers.

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