Contribution of metropolitan areas to national economies

In 2013, 281 metropolitan areas, where 49% of the OECD population lived, generated 57% of gross domestic product (GDP) and 51% of employment in the OECD area (Figure 2.24).

Nationally, the concentration of GDP ranges from 71% in Japan to less than 30% in Norway. Employment and population tend to be less concentrated than GDP, with the exception of Australia and Korea (Figure 2.24).

The contribution of metropolitan areas to national GDP growth can be quite different across OECD countries. Metropolitan areas in Norway, Japan and Denmark accounted for more than 75% of the national growth in the period 2000-13. In contrast, in Switzerland and the Netherlands, metropolitan areas accounted for less than 30% of the national growth (Figure 2.25). In general terms, capital cities in countries with one metropolitan area such as in Norway, Denmark and Hungary, accounted for more than 70% of the GDP national growth (Figure 2.25).

While the overall economic performance of metropolitan areas was strong in the period 2000-13, some areas are growing fast while others are stagnant or shrinking (Figures 2.27 and 2.28). Indeed, while metropolitan areas such as Centro (Mexico) and Perth (Australia) grew at an annual average growth rate above 6% between the period 2000-12, Catania (Italy), Detroit (United States) and Rotterdam (Netherlands) experienced the larger decreases in terms of GDP over the same period (above -0.5%).

Metropolitan areas tend to be more productive than the rest of the economy. The productivity gap, measured as the difference in terms of GDP per worker between the metropolitan areas and the rest of the economy, in the OECD area was around 30% in 2013. Such a gap is higher in the Americas and in Europe than in Asia and Oceania (Figure 2.26). Overall, GDP per worker is on average higher in large metropolitan areas (with population above 1.5 million) (Figure 2.26).


281 Metropolitan areas have been identified in 30 OECD countries according to the OECD-EU methodology that identifies metropolitan areas on the basis of densely populated cities and their commuting zones (travel to work journeys) to reflect the economic geography of the population’s daily commuting patterns (see Annex A for details).

The metropolitan population in a country is given by the national population residing in metropolitan areas.


OECD (2015), “Metropolitan areas”, OECD Regional Statistics (database),

Reference years and territorial level

The OECD-EU definition of functional urban areas (FUA) has not been applied to Iceland, Israel, New Zealand and Turkey. The FUA of Luxembourg does not appear in the figures since it has a population below 500 000 inhabitants.

Further information

OECD (2012), Redefining “Urban”: A New Way to Measure Metropolitan Areas, OECD Publishing, Paris,

OECD (2015), The Metropolitan Century. Understanding Urbanisation and its Consequences, OECD Publishing, Paris,

Figure notes

 2.24 and  2.26: Last available year: Austria, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland 2012; Slovenia 2011. Metropolitan employment figures are estimates based on employment data at TL3 level except for Chile, Mexico, Poland and Portugal were TL2 are used and NOG for Canada. Australian and the United States figures are provided by the Australian Bureau of Statistics and U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics respectively. For all countries, metropolitan population is estimated on municipal population for the last two available Population Census.

 2.25 and  2.27- 2.28: Available years: Austria, Germany, Estonia, Spain, Finland, France, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Sweden 2000-12; Switzerland and Norway 2008-12; Japan 2001-12, Mexico 2003-13 and the United States 2001-13. Italy, Greece and Portugal are excluded from the figure due to lack of data on comparable years.

 2.24- 2.28: Metropolitan GDP figures are estimates based on GDP data at TL3 level except for Australia, Canada, Chile and Mexico were TL2 are used. United States figures are provided by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Information on data for Israel:

2.24. Per cent of population, GDP and employment in OECD metropolitan areas, 2013

2.25. Per cent of national GDP growth contributed by the metropolitan areas 2000-13

2.26. Ratio between labour productivity in metropolitan areas and the rest of the economy, 2013

2.27. Metropolitan GDP growth: Asia, Europe and Oceania, 2000-13
Average annual growth rate (constant 2010 USD PPP), metropolitan areas

2.28. Metropolitan GDP growth: Americas, 2000-13
Average annual growth rate (constant 2010 USD PPP), metropolitan areas