Toronto ranked #3 city overall in Cities of Opportunity study of economic leaders: PwC

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London and New York finish in virtual tie for first place overall

TORONTO—Toronto finishes in third place in Cities of Opportunity 2012, dropping one place from last year in the fifth edition of a global study by PwC of 27 centres of finance, commerce and culture. Toronto ranks ahead of global cities like Paris, Singapore and Hong Kong and Tokyo and impressively ranks in the top 5 in 6 out of the 10 indicators and about a third of the 60 variables measured in the study.

Toronto’s #2 ranking in 4 indicators is unique: no other city finishes so highly so consistently this year. In particular, the city scores high in the Intellectual Capital and Innovation indicator, making the top 10 in all 9 variables. Toronto performs especially well in education variables such as class size, literacy and school enrollment and also ranks highly for its entrepreneurial environment.

“Toronto’s economic strength, strong cultural and environmental values and reputation for safety make it a truly liveable, and attractive place to be for both businesses and citizens alike,” says Raj Kothari, Managing Partner, Greater Toronto Area, PwC.  “The city today offers great learning, development and intellectual capital opportunities that we are developing on actively. And, as Cities of Opportunity shows, we expect that Toronto will continue to be an even more vibrant city over the next decade to invest in, for the services we offer, the culture we generate and the quality of the people who are drawn to live in and build this great international city.”

For Health, Safety and Security Toronto finishes in second place just behind Stockholm, performing well in every variable across this indicator. It also ties Singapore for fifth place in Demographics and Livability, scoring first place for quality of living.

Toronto is ranked second in Transportation and Infrastructure, tying London for #1 in the quality and availability of public transport and also ranks first in new construction, building more than twice as many new major structures as second place Mumbai. While this ranking may be a surprise to locals, one reason to explain it could be that the variable related to traffic congestion was moved out of this indicator and into the Demographics and Livability indicator this year. The indicator now seeks to better measure the actual networks of internal mobility within a city and reflects how issues related to congestion and the use of automobiles in a city have become less a matter of urban transport than of quality of life.

Toronto also ranks fifth in Ease of Doing Business behind commercial powerhouses of Singapore, Hong Kong, New York and London. More specifically, it scores first place in workforce management risk, second place in ease of starting a business and fourth for shareholder protection and its operational risk climate.

Toronto is also the fifth least expensive mature economy ranked in the study, with the fourth lowest total tax rate.

This year, the study’s indicators were revised to add a new one: City Gateway. Toronto’s truly low score is in this indicator, where it ranks 19th out of 27 cities, tied with Milan. Had it not been for this attribute Toronto may have continued to hold the #2 position overall. Kothari says, “It will be imperative for Toronto to attract more tourists and business visitors and bridge the current gaps in airport access, aircraft movements and passenger flows if it wants to continue to maintain a top ranking amongst global cities.”

Meanwhile, New York and London finish in a virtual tie to lead overall scoring. However, emerging cities are narrowing the gap within key economic indicators. Both Shanghai and Beijing finish in the Top 5 in City Gateway and Economic Clout, with Beijing leading the latter category.

While New York officially edges out London by one point across 10 economic indicators, the city wins in no individual category. Toronto also shows great balance yet wins no category. London, however, takes the lead in city gateway, an indicator introduced this year that measures global interconnectedness and international attraction. Rounding out the leaders are Paris, which advances four spots from 2011 to number four, and Stockholm at number five.

In addition to looking at the current performance of  27 cities at the center of finance, commerce and culture, the study for the first time analyzes city employment in the most significant and telling job sectors and projects the trajectory of the cities in jobs, productivity, and population  to 2025.

"Cities succeed when they invest in core needs important to both people and businesses," says Bob Moritz, PwC's US Chairman and Senior Partner. "When a city invests continuously and aggressively in critical areas, including education, healthcare, safety and infrastructure, it creates a healthy urban environment. Entrepreneurs and businesses thrive. The city economy grows. And long-term resiliency follows."

“The Cities of Opportunity report is a detailed analysis of how leading global cities stack up against one another,” said Partnership for New York City President and CEO Kathryn Wylde. “New York City, London, Toronto along with other established cities, maintain their top status because of a depth and diversity of strength across all measures. But the true value of this report is not just the rankings; it is that every city can learn from one another about what works when building a 21st century city.”

The Cities of Opportunity key indicators and top three cities in each are:

  • Intellectual capital and innovation: Stockholm, Toronto, Paris
  • Technology readiness: Seoul, San Francisco, New York
  • Transportation and Infrastructure: Singapore, Seoul/Toronto (tied for second), Tokyo
  • Health, safety and security: Stockholm, Toronto, Sydney
  • Sustainability and the natural environment: Sydney, San Francisco/Toronto (tied for second), Berlin
  • Economic clout: Beijing, Paris, London/New York (tied for third)
  • Ease of doing business: Singapore, Hong Kong, New York
  • Cost: Berlin, Seoul, Kuala Lumpur
  • Demographics and livability: Paris, Hong Kong/Sydney (tied for second), San Francisco
  • City gateway: London, Paris, Beijing

Emerging Cities Advance

Beijing advanced to the top spot in "economic clout" while Shanghai placed fifth behind Paris, London, and New York. This is the first time two emerging cities appeared in the top five of this indicator category.

Beijing and Shanghai are also in the top five for “city gateway,” along with London, Paris, and New York. Balanced progress across a range of social and economic indicators represents the next step for these cities in transforming exceptional growth into sustainable performance for these emerging cities.

Where the Jobs Are

For the first time, the 2012 report provides an in-depth look at some of the most significant and telling job sectors, now and looking ahead to 2025. The financial and business services, manufacturing, and wholesale and retail sectors anchor many city economies in 2012. Financial and business services when grouped together account for more than a third of the jobs in Milan, Paris, London, Beijing, San Francisco and Stockholm. One in three Shanghai jobs today is in manufacturing, although the study projects the city shifting to a more diversified economy by 2025. Wholesale and retail make up more than 20 percent of the workforce in Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Moscow, Mumbai, Mexico City and Istanbul.  New York leads the world in healthcare employment with nearly 16 percent of its workforce in the field. Hospitality and tourism accounts for over a quarter of the jobs in Abu Dhabi.

Our Cities Tomorrow

Future employment and economic risks for the 27 cities are pinpointed in a new section that projects a 2025 baseline scenario and several “what if” models.

The study's baseline scenario projects that by 2025 an additional 19 million individuals will live and 13.7 million will work in the cities. They will generate an additional US$3.3 trillion in gross domestic product—all predicated on a world of modest growth. At the same time, the wealth divide will remain much the same in 2025 as it does today. Population and employment will surge in cities like Beijing, Mumbai, Istanbul and São Paulo. Mature cities will maintain greater spending power, and the consumer and corporate demand that fuels emerging economies. Mutual self-interest would logically unite emerging and mature cities as one side continues to need the other.

Despite the rise of emerging cities in key indicators, Cities of Opportunity details some of the long-term challenges facing developing cities due to rapid population and employment growth. For example, both Beijing and Shanghai will need to devote roughly 42 percent of GDP to infrastructure between now and 2025 to accommodate growth while cities like London and New York only need to invest 17 percent and 20 percent, respectively.


Cities of Opportunity is a continually evolving project created for cities, their leaders, businesses, and citizens seeking to improve their economies and quality of life. The report is based on publicly available information supported by extensive research. Three main sources are used: Global multilateral development organizations such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, national statistics organizations, such as UK National Statistics and the US Census Bureau, and commercial data providers. The data were collected during the latter half of 2011 and first quarter of 2012. In the majority of cases, the figures used in the study refer to 2010 and 2011 data. In some cases, national data are used as a proxy for city data. Care has been taken to ensure that, where used, national data closely reflects city data. The scoring methodology was developed to ensure transparency and simplicity, as well as comparability across cities.

Taking the data for each individual variable, the 27 cities are sorted from the best performing to the lowest performing. The cities are then assigned a score from 27 (best performing) to 1 (lowest performing). Once all 60 variables are ranked and scored, they are placed into their 10 indicators. Within each group, the variable scores are then summed to produce an overall indicator score for that topic. This produces 10 indicator league tables that display the relative performance of our 27 cities.

For more information, please visit A copy of the report is also available from the media contacts.

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