Home > Highlighted Articles > Hightlighted article: The 10 Fastest-Growing (and Declining) Cities in the World

Hightlighted article: The 10 Fastest-Growing (and Declining) Cities in the World


Shanghai, China

Are you considering whether the city you might work in is a city decline?  Are you specifically looking for international schools in cities that are considered to be the fastest growing in the world?

It might be something to consider as it might directly effect your experience at a school in one of those cites.  If in a declining city, the international schools there might have declines in student numbers as a result, cash-flow might be a problem in the business department, your benefits might not increase each year or even worse might disappear altogether, etc…  If you are placed at an international school that is considered to be in one of the fastest growing cities, the international schools there might have increasing students as a result, the city you are living in might be improving themselves left and right, the expat life there might been a booming one, etc…

So, which cities are the ones in decline and which cities are the ones that are the fastest-growing?

A new survey from the Brookings Institution ranks the world’s 200 largest metropolitan economies — which account for half of global GDP — from 1-200. And the winners are …

From the report: Shanghai won gold in the Brookings report by winning a double silver in income and employment growth. “Only Shenyang achieved faster income growth, and only Riyadh achieved faster employment growth, than Shanghai last year.”

It is sometimes said that geography is destiny. But a tour of the cities dotting the Mediterranean Sea suggests that nearby metros can have wildly divergent fortunes. Turkey is home to three of the most dynamic metros in the world, according to Brookings, including the surprising Izmir. Meanwhile across the Aegean Sea, Athens had by far the worst 2011 of any major city, with the world’s largest drops in income and employment. A little further west, three Spanish cities along the Mediterranean coast — Valencia, Barcelona, and Seville — were also among the 10 least dynamic cities in the world last year.

“The metro areas at the bottom of the rankings are overwhelmingly affected by the euro zone crisis,” said Emilia Istrate, a senior research analyst with Brookings. “This cities are facing national and international crises.” Richmond and Sacramento are the only American cities in the bottom ten. “These state capitals are still in decline, not because of international crises, but because of local circumstances,” Istrate said. “Government cuts and real estate over-investment from the better years are dragging down growth.”

The most important lesson from this survey is a lesson you already know. The fastest-growing cities and countries are almost always in the developing world. As poorer countries join the vibrant global economy and gain access to consumers and investors with considerable means, there is more low-hanging fruit for them to build on a smaller base of wealth. A city like Hangzhou, China, can triple its GDP in eight years. In fact, it did. If a city like San Jose (CA) tripled its GDP in eight years, the median wage would be nearly $200,000.

Izmir, Turkey, and Santiago, Chile, two of the fastest growing cities in the world, are also among the 20 poorest cities in Brookings’ survey. In the full list of the richest and poorest metropolitan economies, only Houston finished in the top 20 among both the richest and the fastest-growing metros. That’s a remarkable accomplishment for the Texas energy hub, but it’s also an indication that “fastest-growing” and “richest” are barely overlapping Venn diagrams.

Check out all the international schools in these cities on our Schools List page on International School Community.

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