The World's Largest Urban Economy

Over half of humanity now lives in urban areas — and that share is projected to rise to nearly 70% by 2050. As such, the world's cities are the undisputed powerhouses of global economic growth. We wonder: Which metro area accounts for the greatest share of the global economy?

A. New York
B. London
C. Tokyo
D. Shanghai

A. New York is not correct.

The U.S. business and financial capital, New York City, has the world's second-largest metropolitan area economy. It accounts for 2.44% of global GDP, according to data from the Brookings Institution.

New York is still the most economically important U.S. city. It ranks ahead of Los Angeles, which accounts for 1.49% of the global economy — making it the world's fifth-largest metro economy. Two other U.S. cities feature in the top ten: Chicago and Washington, which account for 1.00% and 0.72% of global GDP, respectively.

B. London is not correct.

London — which some would say had its heyday in the 19th and early 20th centuries, when it was capital of an empire that reigned over one-quarter of the world's population — continues to hold its own. It currently ranks in third place globally, with its GDP accounting for 1.91% of the world total.

The only other European city to feature in the world's top ten urban economies is Paris, whose 1.43% share of global GDP ranks it in sixth place.

C. Tokyo is correct.

Japan has been foremost in people's minds in recent weeks due to the earthquake and tsunami disasters, not to mention the resulting nuclear crisis. While there has been much soul-searching about Japan's "lost decades" of economic stagnation in the 1990s and 2000s, the capital, Tokyo, still ranks as the world's most economically important city, accounting for 3.48% of global GDP.

Indeed, Japan has two other cities in the top ten: Osaka in fourth place, with 1.55% of global GDP, and Nagoya in ninth place, with 0.74%. The only other Asian city in the top ten is the South Korean capital, Seoul, which accounts for 1.04% of global GDP.

D. Shanghai is not correct.

Despite being the largest city in the most populous nation in the world, Shanghai ranks only as the world's 33rd-largest metro economy, accounting for 0.36% of global GDP. Given that China's economy has been booming in recent years, Shanghai is bound to move up in the global rankings.

In comparison, China's capital, Beijing, ranks much further down, in 60th place — accounting for 0.24% of global GDP.

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