London ranks top ‘City of Opportunity’, followed by Toronto and Paris, according to PwC - Study assesses social and economic health of 30 leading cities

  • European cities – London, Paris, Amsterdam – make a strong showing among the top cities internationally in biennial PwC study
  • Economic clout, education, technology readiness, location and access, environment, health, safety and security amongst key measures
  • Good quality of life proves to be a winning ingredient for city success
  • City risk resilience and tax profiles assessed

Tuesday 24 May 2016 – European cities perform well at the top of this year’s ‘Cities of Opportunity’ benchmarking developed by PwC. London claims pole position at #1, with Toronto in second place — up from fourth in 2014. Paris follows at #3, with Amsterdam and New York locked in a virtual tie for fourth. The Big Apple drops from #2 in the last edition.

PwC’s Cities of Opportunity 7 provides a balanced benchmarking of the social and economic health of 30 of the world’s leading cities by measuring their performance against 10 indicators including transportation and infrastructure, the ease of doing business, demographics and liveability, technology readiness and cost. The study underscores that city success requires balanced social and economic strengths for the community to work as a whole. It finds high scores in the human elements of urban life show the strongest relation to city success. These traits include good quality of life, senior wellbeing, public transport systems, housing, literacy and enrolment, and disaster preparedness.

Cities of Opportunity’s comprehensive measurement of major centres of business, commerce, intellectual capital and culture, highlights the complex economic and policy challenges cities face to succeed:

  • London retains the first position for the second year in a row, and extends its lead against close rivals in the study. The city is among the top three in six indicators covered by the study, including intellectual capital and innovation; technology readiness; city gateway; demographics and liveability; economic clout; and ease of doing business.
  • Toronto, second in the study, ranks in the top 10 in eight of 10 indicators, and does particularly well in categories that speak to the daily needs and concerns of urban residents – finishing first in health, safety and security; second in cost; and third in sustainability and the natural environment (tied with Seoul).
  • Paris rises to third position overall from sixth in 2014 despite a decade of economic pressure and more recently, terror attacks. Paris performed strongly across the measures, the only city to make the top 10 in 9 out of 10 indicators. It returns to first in demographics and liveability overall, tying New York. Paris comes in second in cultural vibrancy, #4 in quality of living, #5 in both city brand and relocation attractiveness and #6 in the ‘Youthful Cities’ measure, based on a global database ranking 55 of the largest cities from a youth perspective.
  • In a virtual tie for fourth, New York remains part of a global urban elite – but it drops from second position in 2014. The city scores lower in many of this year’s newly-introduced measures and is overtaken by other cities’ gains in existing variables. For example, in the cost indicator, New York appears in the bottom half in the new affordability of rent (#18) and personal tax (#28) measures. In sustainability, it comes in #19 in the new natural disaster preparedness and #23 in water-related business risk.
  • Amsterdam enters the study for the first time this year – in a virtual tie with New York. The city finished in the top five in four indicators, including intellectual capital and innovation; technology readiness; health, safety and security; and sustainability and the natural environment.
  • Stockholm, sixth, performs particularly well in the area of transportation and infrastructure (#1) and sustainability and the natural environment (#1 tied with Sydney).
  • Beijing, which retains its overall #19 spot, performs particularly well in two study indicators: city gateway (#3) and economic clout (#3).
  • Singapore leads in technology readiness (#1) – but drops five spots in the overall ranking from third place in 2014 due to dips in eight of the 10 indicators. Much of the city’s lower result is driven by new variables added in this edition or fresh angles taken on existing measures. For example, Singapore is edged off the top spot in transportation and infrastructure with the incorporation of ease of commute into this indicator group.
  • Eight different cities finish first in at least one indicator. One of them – Johannesburg – tops all cities in competitiveness on cost, but isn’t in the overall top 10

PwC US Chairman and Senior Partner Bob Moritz, who will take on the role of Chairman of PricewaterhouseCoopers International on 1 July 2016, comments:

“Over half the world’s population live in cities, and they represent engines of global or regional economies. A good life is not a luxury in these cities, it’s a basic requirement for cities and businesses to get and keep talent. Strong performing cities are those planning and providing across all the measures of the long-term quality of life of its citizens. Having the infrastructure in place – social, economic and physical – builds stronger communities and in turn the resilience of the city no matter what it faces.”

Hazem Galal, Cities and Local Government Sector Global Leader, says:

“The consistent performance of cities like London, Paris, Singapore and New York within the top ten of Cities of Opportunity shows that their success goes much deeper than economic might alone. Good quality of life in the city plays a fundamental role in their ability to attract and retain the globally mobile talent they need. The continued urban competitiveness of these cities rests on continuing collaboration between the businesses, policymakers and citizens who build them.”

The most threatened cities can be the best prepared

While the need for risk resilience is not new, the stakes of disaster have skyrocketed with cities facing increasing risk from extreme weather, terrorism, nuclear mishaps and other manmade threats, as well as disease. This year’s study shows that the most vulnerable cities can also be the most resilient. Tokyo came top in exposure to risk – and top in the ability to deal with it – outperforming all other cities in natural disaster preparedness. Amsterdam has the second highest disaster vulnerability but the fifth highest preparedness.

Adds Bob Moritz:

“Cities must remain aware, prepare and act to manage today’s threats. What Tokyo and Amsterdam prove is that resilience is all about vigilance, strategic preparation, technological expertise, governance, adaptability – and above all, the resolve of institutions and the community to work together to withstand potential disaster.”

Because no two cities are the same, the study suggests each city needs to develop its own individual strategy to understand strengths, weaknesses, and identities and then orchestrate growth to suit its own profile, building on opportunities and also tackling challenges like providing affordable housing, knitting together effective public transit and reducing disaster exposure.


Notes to editors

The full ranking and a copy of the full report are available at


  1. PwC’s Cities of Opportunity 7 report measures 30 cities across 10 indicators including transportation and infrastructure, the ease of doing business, demographics and liveability, technology readiness and cost. In addition to the overall ranking, the study also ranks cities against each of the 10 indicators.
  2. In order to make each of our 10 indicators ever more accurate and representative, we’ve increased our variables from 59 in our last report to 70 in this one and, in the process, added 14 entirely new variables while deleting or modifying another eight. Amsterdam, Bogotá, and Lagos enter the study for the first time this year. As a result, direct year on year comparisons for all results is not possible.
  3. Cities of Opportunity 7 is based on publicly available data, using three main sources: global multilateral development organisations such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund; national statistics organisations, such as National Statistics in the UK and the Census Bureau in the US; and commercial data providers. The data was collected during the third and fourth quarters of 2015.
  4. Cities included in the report are: Amsterdam, Beijing, Berlin, Bogotá, Chicago, Dubai, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Johannesburg, Kuala Lumpur, Lagos, London, Los Angeles, Madrid, Mexico City, Milan, Moscow, Mumbai, New York, Paris, Rio de Janeiro, San Francisco, São Paulo, Seoul, Shanghai, Singapore, Stockholm, Sydney, Tokyo and Toronto.
  5. The top three cities in each ‘Cities of Opportunity’ indicator are:
    Intellectual capital and innovation: London, San Francisco, Amsterdam
    Technology readiness: Singapore, London, Amsterdam
    City gateway: London, Paris, Beijing
    Transportation and Infrastructure: Stockholm, Singapore, Berlin
    Health, safety and security: Toronto, Sydney, Berlin
    Sustainability and the natural environment: Stockholm, Sydney, Seoul
    Demographics and liveability: New York and Paris (tied for first), London, Los Angeles
    Economic clout: London, New York, Beijing
    Ease of doing business: Singapore, Hong Kong, London
    Cost: Johannesburg, Toronto, Dubai

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