Singapore remains Asia’s leading city in 2012 Cities of Opportunity study: PwC

City tops the chart in ease of doing business and transportation & infrastructure
Singapore is only Asian city in the top 10 in health, safety and security

SINGAPORE, October 10, 2012 – For the second year in a row, Singapore is Asia’s leading city as reported in the Fifth Edition of PwC’s Cities of Opportunity study. Singapore climbed two places to 7th position out of 27 cities surveyed, ranking first in ease of doing business, and transportation and infrastructure.  

Singapore also ranked highly in areas of economic clout and technology readiness, and is the only Asian city to break into the top 10 in health, safety and security. The city is also in the top 10 in City Gateway, a new indicator category that measures a city’s global connectedness and attraction to the outside world.

Mr Gautam Banerjee, Executive Chairman of PwC Singapore, said, “Singapore continues to be a key financial hub in Asia, and its high ranking reflects the city’s attraction as an economically competitive and easy place to do business. Apart from its strong trade network, infrastructure and skilled workforce, Singapore is also able to stay nimble to seize opportunities, which is a characteristic that helps it cope with economic uncertainty.”

Mr Banerjee added, “The cities that are a magnet for people have global appeal, but at the same time they continue to act locally, meaning their residents have a collective experience that they share and enjoy. If you look at the Singapore Memory Project, for example, and see the kind of responses that people have submitted about growing up in Singapore - old school days, memories of childhood foods and places - these are the experiences we’re talking about that make a city. We’ve come a long way since then. Over the last 47 years, Singapore’s success as a livable city has been due to its forward thinking and innovation, as well as its people-focused environment. The next phase of Singapore’s growth will depend on whatever is the next ‘new normal’, and the quality of life will spur our city’s growth.”


Singapore ranks within the top ten places for ease of doing business, economic clout, technology readiness, transportation and infrastructure and health, safety and security.

City gateway

City gateway is a new category, which measures a city’s global connections and attraction beyond its local borders. Overall Singapore placed in the top 10, partly chiefly due to its high ranking in the number of international association meetings and international tourists. However it did not fare so well in the number of hotel rooms.

Demographics and Livability

Demographics and livability represent a city’s quality of life through the experience of its own citizens. Coming in 5th, Singapore’s lack of traffic congestion was a key factor in this category, and the city ties with Stockholm in that area.

Ease of doing business

Singapore tops the chart, moving up from 2nd place in 2011 and taking over from previous #1 Hong Kong. Singapore’s strong performance stemmed from a favourable operational risk climate, shareholder protection, ease of starting a business, intellectual property protection and low tax rate.

Economic clout

This year’s economic clout ranking is dominated by Asian cities, with Beijing and Shanghai joining London, Paris and New York. Singapore follows in 6th position. It fared well in the number of green field projects and capital investment.

Health, safety and security

Singapore ranked 6th, scoring the best record by far of any Asian city, ahead of Abu Dhabi, Tokyo, and Hong Kong. Singapore’s health system ranked highly, and it also has the lowest crime rate of all cities.

Transportation and infrastructure

Singapore ranked first in transportation and infrastructure overall, stemming from the quality and availability of housing, and efficiency, reliability, and safety of its public transport system.

Technology readiness

Singapore remained 6th in technology readiness, ranking highly in terms of Internet access in schools and its digital economy. Singapore is also a global leader in secondary education in math and science, just behind Shanghai.


Cities of Opportunity and the key indicators

New York and London finish in a virtual tie to lead overall scoring. While New York officially edges out London by one point across 10 economic indicators, the city wins in no individual category. Toronto, which finishes third, 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.

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.

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," said 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 and insightful 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 and London, 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, including:

  • If knowledge, technology and travel connections determine future success—placing London, Tokyo, New York, Seoul and Paris among the leaders;
  • If protectionism spreads as a way to counter lingering slow growth, where all cities suffer; and
  • If quality of life drives city economies, a world in which the beauties of Stockholm, Sydney, Paris and San Francisco fuel strong growth in the percent of annual GDP

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 drives 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.

The full report, along with in-depth interviews with E.O. Wilson, emeritus professor of entomology at Harvard, Bill Bratton, former New York and Los Angeles head of police, and other leaders are available at


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.

Methodology presented for The City Tomorrow section can be found on page 20 of the report.

About The Partnership for New York City

The Partnership for New York City’s ( mission is to engage the business community in efforts to advance the economy of New York City and maintain the city’s position as the center of world commerce, finance and innovation. Through the Partnership for New York City Fund, the Partnership contributes directly to projects that create jobs, improve economically distressed communities and stimulate new business creation. Partnership companies account for nearly 7 million American jobs and contribute over $740 billion to the national GDP.

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