The 7 Types of Cities

GEOGRAPHY

A new report defines seven types of global cities, providing a lens through which to understand an evolving global economy. (Brookings Institution)

See how well your students know their global cities by adapting our fun “Guess the Place” activity.

Teachers, scroll down for a quick list of key resources in our Teachers Toolkit.

Quite a cityscape, isn’t it? Cover of “Redefining Global Cities: The Seven Types of Global Metro Economies”, from the Global Cities Initiative

Cover of “Redefining Global Cities: The Seven Types of Global Metro Economies”, from the Global Cities Initiative

Discussion Ideas

  • A new report has detailed seven types of cities. What organization developed this report?
    • The Global Cities Initiative, a joint project of the Brookings Institution and JPMorgan Chase.
      • Brookings is a think tank based in Washington, D.C. Think tanks are organizations that engage in deep research, analysis, and advocacy. They often focus on issues surrounding social policy, economics, and culture. Other important think tanks in the U.S. include the Council on Foreign Relations, the Center for American Progress (a politically progressive think tank), and the Heritage Foundation (a politically conservative think tank).
      • JPMorgan Chase is the largest U.S. bank by assets. Some of Morgan’s financial services include private banking and wealth management, investment banking, brokerage services, equities trading, underwriting, credit cards, risk management, and security services.

 

  • How did Global Cities compile world cities to evaluate?
    • The Brookings Institution considered the 123 cities with the largest economies.

 

  • What are some other ways an organization might compile a list of cities to evaluate?
    • most populous
    • most densely populated area
    • largest area

 

  • What characteristics of cities did Global Cities evaluate?
    • Besides population, the selected characteristics are dominated by economic factors.
      • Economic characteristics: GDP, GDP per capita, and GDP per worker
      • Economic growth: GDP growth, GDP per capita growth, and GDP per worker growth
      • Traded clusters: productivity, foreign direct investment, foreign direct investment per capita
      • Innovation: university research impact, patents per capita, venture capital per capita
    • Non-direct economic factors include:
      • Talent: percentage of population with higher education
      • Connectivity: aviation passenger flow, download speed

 

  • What other characteristics could have been included?
    • The following factors have a huge influence on a city’s economy, but were unable to be included in the report:
      • domestic investment
      • global trade flows
      • freight and logistics systems
      • infrastructure such as roads, trains, and public transit
      • national, regional, and city governance

 

Click to engage with the full interactive map. Map by the Brookings Institute

Click to engage with the full interactive map.
Map by the Brookings Institute

  • So, what are the seven types of global cities?
    • Global Giants: These are extremely large, wealthy metro areas that serve as hubs for financial markets and major corporations, and serve as key nodes in global capital and talent flows. There are six global giants: New York, Los Angeles, Tokyo, Osaka, Paris, and London.
      • Global Giants have the highest GDP and air traffic of all cities in the report.
    • Asian Anchors: These cities are command centers in fast-growing Asia, drawing on their infrastructure connectivity and talented workforces. There are six Asian anchors: Beijing, Hong Kong, Seoul, Shanghai, Singapore, and Moscow. (Yes, we know Moscow is not technically in Asia. But the country in which it is located, Russia, certainly is.)
      • Asian anchors dominate other cities in terms of foreign direct investment.
    • Emerging Gateways: These cities are transportation and economic entry points for major regional markets. Emerging gateways include Mumbai, Mexico City, and Istanbul.
      • Emerging gateways are often clustered in developing regions with the lowest GDPs per capita in the list.
    • Factory China: These Chinese cities are distinctly reliant on export-intensive manufacturing to power economic growth and global engagement. Factory China cities include Chengdu, Qingdao, and Zhengzhou.
      • Factory China cities are among the fastest-growing on the list.
    • Knowledge Capitals: These cities are highly productive innovation centers with talented workforces and elite, tech-driven research universities. Knowledge capitals include San Jose, Seattle, and Stockholm.
      • Not surprisingly, knowledge capitals dominate the innovation and education sectors of the report.
    • American Middleweights: These cities are relatively wealthy and house strong universities and other anchor institutions. American middleweights include Miami, Charlotte, and Sacramento.
    • International Middleweights: These cities are globally connected by people and investment flows. International middleweights include Sydney, Toronto, and Berlin.

 

  • Brookings’ data doesn’t include many cities in the “global south”, whose economies are not robust enough to compete with Global Giants and other cities on the list. Take a look at a list of some huge urban areas with smaller economies below. (Or, take a look at a much larger list here.) If these cities continue to grow and become more competitive, how would you classify them according to the Global Cities scheme? Or would you develop an eighth or ninth type of global city? (“Emerging Africa”, maybe? or “Arabian anchors”?)
    • Jakarta, Indonesia
    • Cairo, Egypt
    • Lagos, Nigeria
    • Buenos Aires, Argentina
    • Hyderabad, India
    • Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
    • Tehran, Iran
    • Manila, Philippines
    • Karachi, Pakistan
    • Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo
    • Dubai, United Arab Emirates
    • Naples, Italy

 

TEACHERS TOOLKIT

Brookings: Redefining Global Cities

Nat Geo: Guess the Place activity

(extra credit!) Global Cities Initiative: Redefining Global Cities report

One response to “The 7 Types of Cities

  1. M

    On Oct 24, 2016 5:28 PM, “Nat Geo Education Blog” wrote:

    > carylsue posted: “GEOGRAPHY A new report defines seven types of global > cities, providing a lens through which to understand an evolving global > economy. (Brookings Institution) See how well your students know their > global cities by adapting our fun “Guess the Place” activ” >

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