Top Cities Most Integrated with the Global Economy

When it comes to globalization or international connectedness, researchers classify cities into tiers such as Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and Sufficiency. Each tier is further categorized into sublevels, including Alpha++. Only two cities worldwide hold this top designation… Any guesses as to which two cities have incomparable global influence and economic connections?

View Global city rating in a full screen map

As we dive into the details of these most globalized cities, we’ll highlight the top-tier cities along with the rest of the classifications, shedding light on their global influence and economic integration.

Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and Sufficiency-Classified Cities

Globalization researchers categorize world cities into tiers such as “Alpha,” “Beta,” and “Gamma,” assessing their level of international connectedness. All Alpha-level cities, for instance, are intricately linked to major economic states or regions and demonstrate a high level of integration into the global economy. However, these classifications can also be split into subcategories, as we’ll see on the table below.

Classification Sub-categories
Alpha ++
Alpha +
Alpha −
Beta +
Beta −
Gamma +
Gamma −
High Sufficiency

Within the Alpha classification, there are four sub-categories such as Alpha ++, representing the cities that are most deeply integrated with the global economy. Only two cities in the world fit the bill, any guesses?

Alpha + cities, on the other hand, are described as “other highly integrated cities that complement the two Alpha ++ cities, largely filling in advanced service needs for the Pacific/Asia region.” Additionally, there are cities classified as Alpha and Alpha −.

Moving on to the Beta level, these cities link moderate economic regions to the world economy, with sub-classifications including Beta +, Beta, and Beta −. Gamma level cities, categorized into Gamma +, Gamma, and Gamma −, are said to link smaller economic regions into the world economy.

Lastly, Sufficiency level cities are those with a sufficient degree of services so as not to be overly dependent on world cities. This category is further divided into High Sufficiency and Sufficiency cities.

With a better idea of the meaning behind these classifications, we can now delve into the cities in the top tier.

The Two Alpha++ Cities & Other Alpha Cities

Only 12% of the world’s cities achieve Alpha status. Two cities hold the coveted Alpha++ designation, signifying unparalleled global influence. But beyond Alpha++ are additional notable classifications.

  • Alpha ++: 2 cities
  • Alpha +: 7
  • Alpha: 15
  • Alpha −: 26

As we mentioned in the previous section, only two cities are categorized as Alpha ++, or as cities that are most deeply integrated with the global economy: London and New York City. Interestingly, as we delve more into the rankings below, we find that many of them are capital cities. However, New York City stands out as it surpasses Washington D.C., which holds a Beta+ level. Of course, globalization isn’t the only thing N.Y.C. outranks the nation’s capital in. There’s also population, which makes the U.S. among the 36 Countries Whose Capital Is Not Their Largest City.

Following the capital of England and the Big Apple are Beijing, Dubai, Hong Kong, Paris, Shanghai, Singapore, and Tokyo, all of which are classified as Alpha + cities.

Of the 15 Alpha cities, six are located in Europe, four in North America (including Chicago and Los Angeles), and three are in Asia. That just leaves Alpha −, of which there are two each from China, India, and the U.S.

Group the map by “Classification” and filter by the three Beta levels to see which cities are the next-best. Even if a city doesn’t secure a top-two classification, it doesn’t mean they aren’t improving, as we’ll see next.

Globalization Surges and Setbacks in Cities from 2018 to 2020

Between 2018 and 2020 were several notable transformations in global rating. While some cities experienced significant growth, others faced declines. Gothenburg and Malmö in Sweden, Haikou in China, and Taichung in Taiwan saw the greatest increase, with each of these four Gamma-level cities rising by three.

On the flip side, Birmingham, United Kingdom, at the High Sufficiency level, faced a considerable downturn during this period, registering the largest decrease of four.

Globalization can be a complex subject. However, thanks to online maps and the grouping feature from BatchGeo, understanding your location data is easier than ever.