PwC Study Confirms a Balance of Social and Economic Strengths is Key to Attracting Talent to Cities

Analysis of 15,000 professionals in 30 of the world’s leading cities uncovers population patterns and community needs


New York, June 16, 2014 – Today’s urban professionals want to live in cities with strong reputations for developing intellectual capital and innovation, as well as high marks for employment prospects and quality of life, according to a new study--Cities of Opportunity 6: We, the urban people--released today by PwC US. The study focuses on urban demographics and includes findings from a global survey of 15,000 PwC staff in 30 cities, providing an in-depth look at what matters most to working professionals in the cities where they live.

The study examines critical urban qualities, commuting, likelihood of remaining in the city, preferences for relocation, and spending patterns. It also provides leaders in business, government and education with an understanding of how to develop strategies to advance the well-being of urban people and communities.

"Rapid urbanization and demographic shifts are trends around which policymakers in business, government and education can craft strategies that will build prosperity," said Bob Moritz, PwC's US Chairman and Senior Partner. "People are seeking new opportunities in cities, so the world is getting smaller. In order to attract the talent cities need to maintain a competitive advantage and thrive, cities need to have the foresight necessary to invest in infrastructure and other areas that will help individuals not only maintain high morale and quality of life, but succeed both in their careers and personally."

What Matters Most

PwC’s study confirms that skilled professionals in the prime of their careers want to live and work in urban centers that offer the greatest employment opportunities and strong social attributes. Friends and family was cited as the most critical trait to have in a city by 29% of respondents. That was followed by employment prospects at 23% and safety and security at 14%.

Relocation preferences also parallel the desire for social and economic balance. London and New York were named as the top two choices by PwC people if they were to work in any other of the 30 cities featured (with 20 percent and 18 percent choosing the two cities, respectively). Cities with strong showings in the demographics and livability indicator also fared well as Sydney, San Francisco and Paris rounded out the top five first-choice preferences for relocation, attracting 10 percent, nine percent and five percent of responses, respectively.

Affordability was cited by 28% of respondents as most needing improvement in their city. Transportation infrastructure was the second most universal complaint noted by 24%.


On average, 65% of PwC professionals go into their central business district offices on a daily basis, with Nairobi, Jakarta, Stockholm, Moscow, and London among the most dedicated to their downtown desks (ranging from 93 percent in the case of Nairobi to 80% in London). For Jakarta, that comes at a cost of 20 days lost commuting annually, 16 days lost in London and 14 in Moscow. Among transportation modes included in the commute, 39% take the subway, 26% drive their cars and 24% take the bus. Seventeen percent walk, three percent bike to work and two percent ride a motorcycle, and these are the people who were most pleased with the ease of their commutes. Those who drive or take the train say they have the most difficult commute. PwC people in Stockholm and San Francisco rate their commute as easiest among the 30 cities.

The Impact of Demographic Shifts

The growing numbers of elderly urban dwellers also figure prominently in demographic shifts the world is witnessing. For instance, about a quarter of the population in cities like Milan and Tokyo will be over 67 by 2025 (26% and 23%, respectively). And today, more than two-thirds of our 30 cities have two or less active workers for each non-working dependent. As part of its study, PwC examined how a “greying planet” could create new urban economic challenges at the same time, as cities have the potential to use their densities to effectively serve aging demographics and businesses have the opportunity to serve new markets in healthy longevity.

Cities of Opportunity 6: We, the urban people is a companion to the previously released Cities of Opportunity 6.

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