With only 20 percent of the population, the world’s 300 largest metropolitan economies accounted for nearly half of global output in 2014. This interactive and report compare growth patterns in the world’s 300 largest metro economies on two key economic indicators—annualized growth rate of real GDP per capita and annualized growth rate of employment. These indicators, which are combined into an economic performance index on which metro areas are ranked, matter because they reflect the importance that people and policymakers attach to achieving rising incomes and standards of living and generating widespread labor market opportunity.

2014 GLOBAL METRO MONITOR MAP

VIEW DATA TABLE

NOTES: The metropolitan area growth index, or performance score, combines change in employment and GDP per capita into a single index. For a given time period, the growth rates for each indicator are standardized and then added together to create a final score. The final score is ranked, with 1 indicating the strongest combined performance during the given time period. See the appendix to this report for greater detail.

SOURCES: Brookings analysis of data from Oxford Economics, Moody’s Analytics, and the U.S. Census Bureau.

[Note: To see the associated interactive, please visit the site on a tablet or desktop computer]

Findings

Developing metro economies continue to be the sites of faster growth in 2014, further converging with their more developed peers. In an economic performance index combining employment and GDP per capita growth, developing metro areas accounted for 80 percent of the top performers, led by metro areas in China and Turkey. Six developed metro economies from the United States and United Kingdom were also among the top performers.

Metro areas continue to power national economic growth; most registered faster GDP per capita or employment growth in 2014 than their respective countries. A third of the world’s 300 largest metropolitan economies were “pockets of growth,” outpacing their national economies in both indicators, revealing that specific characteristics of metropolitan economies often differentiate their economic performance from that of their countries. 

Sustained growth means that a majority of the world’s metro economies (60 percent) have recovered to pre-recession levels of employment and GDP per capita. At the other end of the spectrum, just over one-fifth of metro areas are “not recovered” in either indicator; 90 percent of this group is comprised of North American and Western European metro economies.

Metropolitan areas specializing in commodities registered the highest rates of GDP per capita and employment growth in 2014. Utilities, trade and tourism, and manufacturing specializations were also associated with higher growth. Metro areas with high concentrations of business, financial, professional services grew more slowly.

Authors

Joseph Parilla

Joseph Parilla is a research analyst at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program. His work on the Global Cities Initiative focuses on improving the global competitiveness of U.S. metropolitan areas.

Jesus Leal Trujillo

Jesus Leal Trujillo is a research assistant with the Metropolitan Policy Program. His work focuses on improving the understanding of economic flows between U.S. and international metropolitan areas.

Alan Berube

Alan Berube is senior fellow and deputy director at the Metropolitan Policy Program. He has authored numerous Brookings publications on topics including metropolitan demographic and economic trends, social policies affecting low-income families and communities, and cities in the global economy.

Tao Ran

TAO Ran is a nonresident senior fellow of the Foreign Policy program whose research focuses on topics related to China's ongoing economic transition.