São Paulo has one of the best carbon footprints and great weather – but also the highest criminality and the worst entrepreneurial environment. This is how the Brazilian mega city is portrayed by Cities of Opportunity, a study just published by PricewaterhouseCoopers, one of the biggest accountancy companies in the world. It compares the economic/social/cultural performance of 26 metropolis for 10 major indicators, from innovation to climate, from cost to livability. It is pretty useful for those moving or doing business in one of these urban centers, having to figure what opportunities and challenges they will have to face.
One of the coolest features of the project is Model your City. It allows you to pick the cities and 66 indicators of your choice to build a comparative chart. You can also download the whole document. It is pretty simple to read: the higher the number of points a city has for a certain indicator (between 1 and 26), the better.
São Paulo’s depiction is not exactly kind. In fact it is one of the bottom three, just above Johannesburg and Mumbai, with a little under half the points gathered by New York, that heads the list.
It is considered the city with most crimes, the worst to hire people, pay taxes, open a business or enjoy an entrepreneurial environment. To compensate, it has the best thermal comfort (no extreme temperatures), and it is the second best in terms of carbon footprint and use of renewable energies. It is a somewhat easy place if you have to fire somebody (19) or obtain a visa (17), has reasonably intense skyscraper construction activity (16), low natural disaster risk (17) and, note this, high life satisfaction (17).
São Paulo also scores 13 for air pollution (exactly midway between hellish Mexico City and ultra clean Stockholm). And, check this: it is number 13, midway to the top in terms of number of Global 500 companies headquarters.
It is pretty bad in terms of access to the airport (3), quality of broadband (5), green areas as a percent of the city area (3), health system performance (4), intellectual property protection (3), internet access in schools (3), Math/Science skills attainment (3), end-of-life care (3) and rigidity of hours (2).
Keep in mind that the list of 26 cities analyzed includes some tough realities, such as the aforementioned Mumbai and Johannesburg – but most of the other metropolis are in developed countries. If PriceWaterhouseCoopers had chosen more cities in developing economies, São Paulo would probably climb a few positions in the ranking.
What’s your opinion? Do you think this is a fair portrait of the city’s assets and handicaps?