The 10 Fastest-Growing (and Fastest-Declining) Cities in the World

More

A new survey from the Brookings Institution ranks the world's 200 largest metropolitan economies -- which account for half of global GDP -- from 1-200. And the winners are ...

shanghai Jordi AC flickr.png

Jordi AC/Flickr

Shanghai is the fastest-growing city in the world, according to MetroMonitor, a quarterly analysis from the Brookings Institution that compares the 200 most prosperous metros by income and job growth. The victims of the euro zone crisis dominate the end of the list. Athens, Lisbon, and Dublin, the capitals of the three most endangered nations in Europe's sovereign debt crisis, made up the bottom three.

Here are the ten fastest-growing cities (and the ten least dynamic cities) studied by the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program.

Mapping the new global power structure See full coverage

It is sometimes said that geography is destiny. But a tour of the cities dotting the Mediterranean Sea suggests that nearby metros can have wildly divergent fortunes. Turkey is home to three of the most dynamic metros in the world, according to Brookings, including the surprising Izmir. Meanwhile across the Aegean Sea, Athens had by far the worst 2011 of any major city, with the world's largest drops in income and employment. A little further west, three Spanish cities along the Mediterranean coast -- Valencia, Barcelona, and Seville -- were also among the 10 least dynamic cities in the world last year.

"The metro areas at the bottom of the rankings are overwhelmingly affected by the euro zone crisis," said Emilia Istrate, a senior research analyst with Brookings. "This cities are facing national and international crises." Richmond and Sacramento are the only American cities in the bottom ten. "These state capitals are still in decline, not because of international crises, but because of local circumstances," Istrate said. "Government cuts and real estate over-investment from the better years are dragging down growth."

The most important lesson from this survey is a lesson you already know. The fastest-growing cities and countries are almost always in the developing world. As poorer countries join the vibrant global economy and gain access to consumers and investors with considerable means, there is more low-hanging fruit for them to build on a smaller base of wealth. A city like Hangzhou, China, can triple its GDP in eight years. In fact, it did. If a city like San Jose (CA) tripled its GDP in eight years, the median wage would be nearly $200,000.

Izmir, Turkey, and Santiago, Chile, two of the fastest growing cities in the world, are also among the 20 poorest cities in Brookings' survey. In the full list of the richest and poorest metropolitan economies, only Houston finished in the top 20 among both the richest and the fastest-growing metros. That's a remarkable accomplishment for the Texas energy hub, but it's also an indication that "fastest-growing" and "richest" are barely overlapping Venn diagrams.

highest:lowest per capita cities.pngWhen you line up the world's biggest metros areas from richest to poorest, what you've got is a world with plenty of room for catch-up. There is a precipitous drop-off from cities like Tokyo and New York to mid-level metro economies like Stockholm, and a long tail that reaches down to Cairo and New Haven.

Screen Shot 2012-01-18 at 1.01.07 PM.png

>

Jump to comments
Presented by

Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, labor markets, and the entertainment business.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

Juice Cleanses: The Worst Diet

A doctor tries the ever-popular Master Cleanse. Sort of.


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Juice Cleanses: The Worst Diet

A doctor tries the ever-popular Master Cleanse. Sort of.

Video

Why Did I Study Physics?

Using hand-drawn cartoons to explain an academic passion

Video

What If Emoji Lived Among Us?

A whimsical ad imagines what life would be like if emoji were real.

Video

Living Alone on a Sailboat

"If you think I'm a dirtbag, then you don't understand the lifestyle."

Feature

The Future of Iced Coffee

Are artisan businesses like Blue Bottle doomed to fail when they go mainstream?

Writers

Up
Down

More in Business

Just In