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Measuring and Comparing World Cities


  • Freeman, Alan


Measuring and Comparing World Cities studies the economic performance of a shortlist of 27 cities, as estimated by seven sources. The article reproduces, in citable form and, for scholarly purposes, the report of the same name produced by the author for the Greater London Authority. The report finds that estimates of even the most basic indicators, such as the level and growth of city productivity, diverge so much between the providers of estimates, that no single estimate of any indicator of city performance can be relied on. It explains why. The findings of this paper led GLA Economics to the conclusion that a world standard for comparing cities was required, leading to its work in defining a Functional Urban Region (FUR) for London, and to joint work with the Greater European Metropolitan Areas Comparative Analysis (GEMACA) project, with Eurostat’s Urban Audit, and with the territorial working group of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), to attempt to define a world standard The lack of such a world standard led GLA Economics to produce the benchmark dataset reproduced in this paper. This specifies output, employment and productivity for 27 cities, derived from standardised geographical definitions and harmonised data. The dataset serves as a reference for the GLA group and is used to compare and assess data commissioned from other private and official sources. This working paper outlines a procedure to extend this dataset to a wider range of cities and indicators. It also specified a framework for the GLA group to use when commissioning further data on cities.

Suggested Citation

  • Freeman, Alan, 2004. "Measuring and Comparing World Cities," MPRA Paper 18103, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:18103

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    Cited by:

    1. Freeman, Alan, 2005. "Towards a common standard: comparing European and American cities," MPRA Paper 18104, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Freeman, Alan, 2007. "Defining and Measuring Metropolitan Regions," MPRA Paper 52716, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 01 Jun 2007.
    3. Freeman, Alan, 2007. "The GLA’s interim metro area dataset," MPRA Paper 18130, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Freeman, Alan & Cheshire, Paul, 2006. "Defining and Measuring Metropolitan Regions: a rationale," MPRA Paper 52714, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 26 Nov 2006.

    More about this item


    City; global city; Functional Urban Region; Larger Urban Zone; Territorial Indicators; Metropolitan Region; pluralism;

    JEL classification:

    • H70 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - General
    • R0 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General
    • J0 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General


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