A new report from the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program, Global Metro Monitor 2018, finds that the 300 largest metropolitan areas in the world expanded faster than the global economy overall – accounting for two-thirds of global GDP growth, and more than a third of global employment growth between 2014 and 2016.
The concentration of economic growth and prosperity in large metro areas now defines the modern global economy, creating both opportunities and challenges in an era in which national political, economic, and societal trends are increasingly influenced by subnational dynamics.
The report focuses on metropolitan performance on two key economic indicators: GDP per capita and employment.
Emerging economy metro areas continued to disproportionately drive growth, accounting for 80% of the 60 top-performing metro economies on the index.
This urban growth story cannot be told without a deliberate focus on China, which now incredibly houses more than one-third of the world’s 300 largest metropolitan areas.
The report also found that between 2014 and 2016: Metro areas in China and Emerging Asia-Pacific experienced the fastest GDP per capita growth in the world.
Rather than a measure of competitiveness, wealth, or livability, the Global Metro Monitor aims to capture how large metro areas are responding to continued changes in the world economy; and amidst concerns of rising place-based disparities, how these metro areas are growing relative to their surrounding nations and regions.
Middle Eastern and African metro areas displayed the fastest employment growth.
Metropolitan areas within the top 300 in China (55 new entrants), the Middle East and Africa (10), and the rest of emerging Asia-Pacific (8) have all increased, whereas metro areas in North America, Western Europe and advanced Asia-Pacific have lost 64 slots in total.
Large metro areas in China and Emerging Asia-Pacific dominate the list of fastest growing economies from 2014 to 2016.
Highest performers on economic performance index, 300 largest metropolitan economies, 2014–2016:
Conversely, large metro areas in other emerging regions–Latin America, Central Asia and Africa–exhibited some of the slowest growth, including Johannesburg and Cape Town.
Lowest performers on economic performance index, 300 largest metropolitan economies, 2014–2016:
With the exception of Pretoria, which recorded the highest regional growth in employment (7.6%) and robust GDP per capita growth (3.5%), major African cities underperformed compared with their Middle Eastern peers.
Johannesburg and Cape Town registered negative GDP per capita growth and limited employment growth.
GDP per capita decreased by 3.4% in Lagos and by nearly 7% in Luanda. See below for more details on the 50 metropolitan areas in the Middle East and North Africa that we profile in a special feature.