Competitive Cities in the Global Economy

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Urban areas represent an important part of the national economy and feature higher GDP per capita and productivity levels than their country’s average. But they also harbour large pockets of unemployment and poverty and suffer from problems such as congestion, pollution and crime.  This book examines whether they are sustainable in the long term and what needs to be done to keep these engines of economic growth running smoothly. A synthesis report based on OECD metropolitan reviews and a database of 78 metro regions, this report examines cities performance within their countries and addresses key issues such as competitiveness and social cohesion, intergovernmental relationships, and urban finance.

“This is a 'must read' publication, not only for those who already believe in the key importance of urban policy, but even more so for those who remain to be convinced.”  Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón, Mayor of Madrid, Spain

"The most comprehensive examination of the territorial dimension underlying economic growth today."

Saskia Sassen, author of Territory, Authority, Rights: From Medieval to Global Assemblages (Princeton University Press 2006).

With the nation-state and the corporation seen as the world’s two competing economic and social units, the regional economy is often overlooked. It’s refreshing to see such detailed attention paid to its role as the real motor force of international growth.”

Richard Florida, author of The Flight of the Creative Class.

“This report on cities demonstrates that economic prosperity and social well-being are inseparable.”

Jean-Louis Borloo, Minister of Labour, Social Cohesion and Housing, France.

"A striking report that will force governments to reconsider their urban agenda".

Dr. Giulio Santagata, Minister of Government's Programmes, Italy.

This report provides invaluable advice for policy makers as our cities grapple with profound change."

David Crane, Columnist on Global Issues, The Toronto Star


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Competitiveness, Liveability and Strategic Vision

Metro-regions are undoubtedly important actors of national economies, although they are not always synonymous with wealth. Overall, city size is positively associated with income. Capital cities, with their distinctive range of occupations and sectors, are at the fore. Thanks to their capacity to attract labour and firms from elsewhere within and across countries, metro-regions have a higher GDP per capita than their national average (66 out of 78 metroregions). And most metro-regions also have higher labour productivity levels than their country average (65 out of 78 metro-regions). Metro-regions tend to have a more favourable demographic structure than their national averages as well, with lower dependency ratios. Not surprisingly, these regions tend to have faster growth rates than their countries. Yet, overall performance of metro-regions does have some limits. First, there are important exceptions to the group of above national average well performing metro-regions, some ostensibly “dysfunctional”. Moreover, differences of output, productivity and employment from national averages are not so large. And after a certain threshold (around 7 million) the city size and income association becomes negative, probably due to congestion costs and other diseconomies of agglomeration. Finally, the generally strong economic performance of metroregions frequently comes at a cost: unemployment, inequalities, and various indicators of a lack of social cohesion (such as crime rates) tend to be higher.

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