The Green Gap

In the Cold War, we feared a Missile Gap was a strategic weakness. Nowadays, we must awaken to the fact that the Green Gap is true strategic weakness: the nations whose economies will thrive in the coming years will not be those with the biggest factories, but those with the most sustainable, efficient, and ecological markets. What we require is a Strategic "Green Reserve" of ecological design to weather the coming changes that both climate and resource scarcity will force on the international economy.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

City States

I challenged several friends to come up with a city-state that wasn't rich. We all failed to find any.

Let's get a list to start with:
Argentina - Buenos Aires
Australia - Canberra
Austria - Vienna
Belgium - Brussels
Brazil – Brasília
Ethiopia - Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa
Germany - Berlin, Hamburg, Bremen
Russia - Moscow, Saint Petersburg
Switzerland - Geneva, Basel-Stadt
United Arab Emirates - Abu Dhabi, Dubai (et. al.).
India – Delhi, Chandigarh (Union Territories)
Malaysia – Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya, Labuan (Federal Territories)
Mexico – Mexico City (being the Mexican Federal District)
Nigeria – Abuja, Federal Capital Territory
Pakistan – Islamabad (being the Islamabad Capital Territory)
United States – Washington, D.C.
Spain - Ceuta, Melilla (enclaves)
China - Hong Kong, Macau, Shanghai, Tianjin, Beijing, Chongqing

I populated this list with cities noted from wikipedia, but also added the four "Prefecture-Level Municipalities" of the PRC: Shanghai, Tianjin, Beijing, and Chongqing. First off, what's the best way of determining "rich"? I'd have to say that if the GDP of the city is greater than the national average by a substantial margin, we can consider that city relatively rich. How do the cities stack up?

Buenos Aires makes close to 4x the per capita GDP of Argentina.

"Canberra households had the highest average income of any capital city."

In Germany, Berlin: €24,900; Hamburg: €48,600  (highest in Germany); Bremen: €38,200 (second highest in Germany)...

In China, Macao and Hong Kong are #1 and #2 respectively for per-capita GDP. Shanghai is 8th, Beijing 17th, Tianjin 23rd, and Chongqing 74th respectively. The average per capita GDP in China is between $7400-7500 USD (PPP) depending on whether you trust the world bank or CIA world factbook. All of the cities named above are above that line by at least $1000 USD except Chongqing, which is substantially under.

I ask anyone who reads this to look up the other locations... it seems there is something here. I've got to go back to Thinking in Systems so I can be read up for my next Amazon shipment!


  1. Why is Chongqing poor?

  2. I admit I don't know enough about Chongqing to give a paticularly useful comment. From a higher level of analysis, it seems China has selected these cities for prefectural status not as economic units, but simply due to the fact they have a large population. Most of the East coast cities have developed because the development of China as a whole has occurred from East to West. Investment money is only now reaching Sichuan (in part because Eastern salaries are too high for many employers) and the development of the province is nowhere near that of Zhejiang, Jiangsu, Guangdong, etc. Once the move of industry to the West really picks up the pace, I think we will see Chongqing become a central economic powerhouse... but not now.