Skip to content
CityLab
Economy

The Economic Power of Cities Compared to Nations

Sorry, Canada—your entire economy would fit inside Tokyo.
People cross a street in the Akihabara shopping district in Tokyo, Japan, January 10, 2017. The Tokyo metro area GDP-PPP is $1.6 trillion, about the same as Spain or Canada.
People cross a street in the Akihabara shopping district in Tokyo, Japan, January 10, 2017. The Tokyo metro area GDP-PPP is $1.6 trillion, about the same as Spain or Canada.Toru Hanai/Reuters

This post is part of a CityLab series on power—the political kind, the stuff inside batteries and gas tanks, and the transformative might of mass movements.

We’ve been talking about power this week at CityLab. Although it’s common to rate and rank the economic power of nations—think of all the articles you’ve read about China catching up with and eventually overtaking the United States in terms of GDP—the real economic power centers of the world economy are cities and metro areas.

To put that into perspective, let’s look at how the economies of the world’s largest metros match up to national economies. We based this comparison on gross domestic product at purchasing power parity, or GDP-PPP. The data for metros is for 2015 and comes from the Brookings Institution’s Redefining Global Cities report, which draws on data from Moody’s Analytics and Oxford Economics; the data for nations is also for 2015 from the World Bank’s World Development Indicators.