by Renard Teipelke
Before I actually start with the topic, I would like to contend: Once a city is at the top of statistical economic rankings, it is in a quite good position to stay there. Just refer to New York, London, and Tokyo in various kinds of rankings…
Frankfurt came out first (again) in this year’s study by the Hamburg Institute of International Economics (HWWI) and Berenberg Bank on the locational qualities of Germany’s 30 largest cities (here). The average productivity output of an employee in Frankfurt is 87’000 Euro per year. Two fifths of the city’s workforce can be found in knowledge industries, and employment rates are improving. Those are the prime facts for the economic category of the study as SPIEGEL Online reported recently.
Regarding the population category, Frankfurt benefits from the 5.5 million people in the Rhine-Main Metropolitan Region. And it is one of the larger urban areas in Germany that have experienced population growth in the past years. Even better is Frankfurt’s performance with regard to the openness category: More than one sixth of all students in Frankfurt are foreigners – that is the highest percentage of all German cities compared in the study. A similar number is stated for the workforce. And then there is the city’s extremely central location in (Western) Europe that together with the extensive transportation infrastructure (road, rail, air) makes it one of Europe’s prime locations.
2013 Ranking on locational qualities (source: HWWI/Berenberg):
(1) Frankfurt am Main
So that is about locational qualities – hard economic facts (haha…). In another article on the issue of mainstream and alternative culture scenes, I have already compared Berlin and Frankfurt. So let us turn to livability beyond banks and museums: How good is life in Frankfurt? I could refer again to other indexes and rankings showing that life in this city is supposedly very good. But I would argue from another standpoint, a very personal one: For me, as I experienced it again in the past couple of days, since I have been back in the city, Frankfurt is a great place to live in. Why so?
Well, there is a lot of green. Not like Berlin with plenty of trees and small parks (and plenty of dog poo), but an extensive green belt around the city center, which is easy to access from most neighborhoods. Then there is a well-resourced university and many other higher education institutions. There are bicycle lanes, the S-Bahn, subways, trolley cars (trams), busses, car sharing, bike sharing, etc. all over the metro area. Then there are many soccer and other sports clubs here. Endless leisure time opportunities can be found all over the place. And this thriving metropolitan region offers a large diversity of different urban (and rural) areas for every type of person. And surprisingly for its ‘world cityness’, Frankfurt has preserved a pretty ‘normal’ and regional flair in its diverse neighborhoods.
Then there are jobs, jobs, jobs…that pay. And this is not only important in the current (ongoing) economic crisis, but in general – for mid-career professionals as well as the older workforce, and particularly for the young generation which has to decide on (re-) locating to/from the region. For sure, as in every city, there are things which are problematic. Housing is one of the recurring/constant challenges for many residents. This is very unsocial (global city discussion…).
But overall, the city – and with it also the whole Rhine-Main Metropolitan Region – seems to go in the right direction. Frankfurt also having one of Germany’s best climates is just another icing on the cake.
In my next article, I will discuss what the underlying reasons for Frankfurt’s reasonably well standing might be.