City states

A report by the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings shines a light on the increasingly differential fortunes of those who live and work in the world’s biggest cities, and everyone else. The largest 300 cities in the world only account for 22% of global population growth, whereas they account for 36% of employment growth, showing perhaps unsurprisingly that one’s employment prospects are greater in these large metropolises. The starker figure is that the same cities account for 67% of global GDP growth; an indication of the leverage that these cities bestow on their labour. Even within this cohort there exists tiers of success, with China / APAC cities leading on per capita GDP growth, and Middle East / African cities leading on employment growth. For reasons of sovereignty, law, trade and culture, we define our world geography by countries. That hasn’t always been the case; for instance, Renaissance Italy was dominated by city states such as Venice and Florence. As mega-cities come to increasingly dominate their national economies, global definitions might more helpfully focus on them, rather than increasingly homogenised national differences.