Since 2015, the Mori Memorial Foundation’s Institute of Urban Strategies has issued its annual Global Power City Index (GPCI), which evaluates and ranks 48 of the most influential cities in the world based on six functions: economy, research and development, cultural interaction, livability, environment, and accessibility. These rankings demonstrate the strengths and weaknesses of each city, and provide a strategic analysis of which factors a given city should concentrate on improving.
In a post-pandemic world, the GPCI reveals deep insights into a given city’s ability to recuperate from the residual effects of Covid-19, and takes into account how the aftermath may have affected the rankings. For example, enterprises across the United States have pioneered a hybrid work style, which has adversely affected the number of restaurants in major cities since people dine out less when it’s more convenient to prepare meals at home.
The Top 5 Cities
Holding on to its top position that it achieved last year, London is a cultural hub not only because of its impressive array of museums and galleries, but also its diversity. This includes cultural communication, where the city ranked first by improving the number of foreign visitors and air passengers as well as the number of arrivals and departures at airports. However, it should be noted that London’s score in skilled human resources, in the economic function, fell dramatically. London was one of the only cities in the top five that were able to improve their overall score, which is likely due to its focus on recuperating its strengths post-pandemic.
2. New York
An iconic American metropolis known as the “city that never sleeps,” which expresses its vibrant nightlife, nonstop excitement and bustle, and plentiful job opportunities. Although ranking second overall, New York scored first in economy and research and development as well as second—just behind London—in cultural interaction. When it comes to its economy, New York also toppled San Francisco in wage levels—the city had ranked first in 2022. However, the GPCI reveals New York’s imbalance of extreme strengths and weaknesses—its scores for environment (28) and livability (38) declined, the latter because of the post-pandemic, work-from-home lifestyle’s impact on public spaces and restaurants, along a marked decrease in the city’s cleanliness.
Recognized for its blend of the traditional and the ultramodern, with a neon-lit nightlife contrasting with Shinto and Buddhist temples, Tokyo balances both convenience and safety as well as tranquility and excitement. The city’s main strength according to the GPCI is livability, where it improved from the previous year and ranked third. It has also seen a notable increase in cultural interaction, which may indicate a shift in population dynamics within the city, and more integration of foreign immigrants and expats. However, its sluggish economy led to a reduction in the score for this category, with GDP growth rate, wage level, and variety of workplace options falling dramatically. However, the economic decline has also brought down housing costs, increasing Tokyo’s already strong score in livability.
Featuring lively thoroughfares framed with imposing Haussmanian edifices and embellished with neoclassical sculpture, Paris is a center of art and culture. Although it is catching up to Tokyo, and only a narrow gap separates the two, Paris’s accessibility decreased due to a growing difficulty in travel within the city—both because of traffic congestion and increasing taxi fare rates. However, Paris has also worked to lower corporate taxes and increase international air passenger numbers, which led to improving economy and cultural interaction scores. Experts at Mori note an apparent gap between Paris’s strengths and weaknesses, which indicates areas for improvement.
A city renowned for its organized urban planning, Singapore is an economic marvel that is known for its sophistication, stunning skyline, and natural surroundings. Despite receiving a formidable rank of fifth—the same it received last year—in almost every function besides environment, Singapore has decreased in rank, with the most significant decrease being in livability, where it has fallen 10 places to 35. However, Singapore has dramatically increased its number of foreign visitors and air passengers, which boosted its scores in cultural interaction and accessibility.
Cities to Keep an Eye on
Dubai has moved up from 11th to ninth in the GPCI, becoming the first Middle Eastern city to reach the top 10. A burgeoning emirate metropolis, home to the Burj Khalifa, the Jumeirah Mosque, and the Palm Islands, Dubai is a tax-free playground for the wealthy that has named itself the “Gulf Tiger.” Although scoring low on environment and research and development (44th and 39th, respectively), Dubai ranked fourth in cultural interaction and sixth in accessibility, reflecting the increase in foreign tourism and migration into the booming megacity. Its gradual ascent in the rankings augurs future competition with this year’s top five major cities.
Ranked sixth and aiming to eventually rival Paris, Amsterdam is characterized by its beauty and accessibility, as well as its canals, cycling culture, and Dutch Baroque architecture. The city overtook Shanghai’s perch at first place in accessibility, thanks in no small part to its integration of bicycle lanes and the easy connection of bus lines to its convenient metro systems. Becoming a contender in the Eurosphere, Amsterdam now ranks higher than Paris in three functions: economy, accessibility, and environment.
The Berliner aesthetic renaissance has bewitched expats who are nostalgic for 60s-era Kreuzberg as well as grunge enthusiasts, and the city finds itself as 10th overall in the GPCI. Its exclusive, gimmicky club-scene—Berghain is of note—has attracted tourists, helping to position it as 10th for cultural interaction. With growing progressive environmental policies, Berlin is also ninth in environment. However, in accessibility, economy and research and development, Berlin falls short in comparison to other major cities. With some of the same strengths and weaknesses as cities like Copenhagen and Vienna, Berlin requires its own unique strengths in order to rank higher.
The GPCI, as it ranks cities holistically through a variety of metrics, is a reliable and fascinating indicator of the overall position of cities on a global scale. It indicates the key aspects of leading cities while also revealing contenders that are modernizing and rapidly improving themselves within different sectors. In a post-pandemic world, and with rapidly urbanizing countries across the African continent, the Middle East, and India, the index also provides insight into the future of global influence.
Jake Benjamin Roiter