If you want to live and work in one of the top global cities then New York, London, and Paris are still your best bets, but within 20 years, it might be Jakarta, Manila, Sao Paulo, New Delhi or even Addis Ababa.

New York and London remain the world’s most global cities, closely followed by Paris, according to the latest cities index from A.T. Kearney.


However, the global consultancy firm has also published an emerging cities index which highlights the locations that may be challenging traditionally ‘global’ cities in 10 to 20 years’ time.

Companies use this information to help them choose the most suitable locations for regional headquarters, research centres and operation hubs. City mayors and urban economic development planners also use it to inform their improvement plans and investment decisions and to better compete in the global economy.

The index, published every two years, provides a unique measure of global engagement for 84 cities from all continents. It measures how globally engaged each city is across 26 metrics in five dimensions: Business Activity, Human Capital, Information Exchange, Cultural Experience, and Political Engagement.

‘While most other city rankings limit their focus to business or quality of life measures, the Global Cities Index provides a holistic look at what differentiates cities in generating, attracting, and retaining global capital, people, and ideas,’ explained Erik Peterson, A.T. Kearney partner and Managing Director of the A.T. Kearney Global Business Policy Council.

Consistent with previous editions of the GCI, New York, London, Paris, and Tokyo lead the ranking. Among the top 20 cities, seven are in the Asia-Pacific region—Tokyo, Hong Kong, Beijing, Singapore, Seoul, Sydney, and Shanghai. Seven are in Europe—London, Paris, Brussels, Madrid, Vienna, Moscow, and Berlin, with six in the Americas—New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington D.C., Toronto, and Buenos Aires.

Beijing, in eighth position, breaks into the top 10 for the first time, thanks to an increase in the number of Fortune 500 company headquarters, international schools, broadband subscribers and museums. Buenos Aires becomes the first Latin American city to join the top 20, based on the strength of its human capital and cultural scene.

Looking at the trends across the five key dimensions since 2008 reveals several interesting findings. Cities are becoming more global. The scores for cities tracked since 2008 have increased by 8% on average.

Furthermore, the lower ranked cities are slowly but steadily closing in on the leaders. Also, Human Capital scores have shown the largest overall increase. The distance between the highest and lowest ranked cities in this dimension is lower than any other dimension, driven by major increases in tertiary degrees and the increased size of foreign born populations in many cities.

‘As physical distances become less relevant and global competition intensifies, cities in low–and-middle-income countries will increasingly jockey for position with one another and with cities in higher income countries,’ said Andres Mendoza Pena, A.T. Kearney Principal and co-author of the report.

Looking at Africa, Addis Ababa is the third city most likely to advance its global position, driven by significant increases across the leading indicators. Nairobi is ranked ninth, largely due to increases in business activity. Rio de Janeiro and Bogotá join São Paulo as Latin American cities among the top 10 in the ECO.

New Delhi, in fifth place, is the South Asian city best poised to increase its position, followed by Mumbai in eighth position and Bangalore in eleventh, as Indian cities appear to be reaping the benefits of the country’s booming service industry and its greater openness to the global economy.