If you look at the EU figures for incomes and output per head the dominance of a few large cities comes across from the statistics. in the 2013 figures Inner London is by far the richest region within the EU. It records an average income per head of 80,000 Euros,more than twice as high as any other part of the UK and more than twice as high as most other EU regions. The dominance of Paris in French economic success is also clear. The Ile de France area , Greater Paris, enjoyed an income of 44,200 Euros a head. The next richest region in France was Rhone Alps at Euro 26,400. These two largest cities in the EU are the most successful in generating high value added services and output, and sustaining more better paid jobs than elsewhere.
Most other European cities are of modest size by modern world standards,and do not establish the same lead over incomes elsewhere in their countries. Berlin is relatively poor. Hamburg is Germany’s top performer with a high income level. In Austria Vienna is the highest earning area by a decent margin, and in Belgium Antwerp is the leader. Outer London is relatively weak, with an average income considerably below the Home Counties that lie beyond it. In the UK Bristol is the one other city aside from Inner London that delivers a higher average income than most parts of the country. Were the EU figures to combine Inner and Outer London it would look more like Paris/Ile de France.
The figures show that cities do seem to offer the best prospects of concentrating, nurturing and using talent to boost incomes and jobs. It is not a universal panacea, as some cities enter periods of decline, stuck with older industries and patterns of working that no longer command high wages. They may also lose talent as it migrates elsewhere, and have a higher ratio of people dependent on state assistance. Fast growing cities on the other hand suck in more talent and may have younger average ages and higher proportions in work.
Other forces can provide high incomes. NE Scotland has done well out of oil, providing enough well paid jobs in that industry to make it one of the best paid regions on average. In the UK Cornwall and West Wales are the lowest income areas, with Lincolnshire, East and South Yorkshire and Merseyside also towards the bottom of the table. The Northern Powerhouse can help boost the great northern cities. As the figures show the lowest incomes in the UK are in rural areas.