Indicators of City Openness

Not all cities are equally open to international migrants. OPENCities aims to find out what openness is and how to define how cities can become more open.

53 indicators of city openness have been selected and grouped into the following areas:

1 Stock of international population

Foreign born population within the city as a proportion of the total population (stock) in the latest census year.

2 Inflow of international population

Average annual growth rates of the foreign born population.

3 Diversity of international population

Composition of the foreign born population according to country of birth (nine most important countries of birth and aggregation of the rest) as a percentage of all foreign born people in the city for the latest available year. Score: 100 → most diverse possible, 0 → least diverse possible.

4 Total metro region foreign labour force

Total foreign born labour force (age 15+) of the metro region as a proportion of the total labour force of the metro region.

5 Highly qualified metro region foreign labour force

The foreign born labour force (age 15+) with tertiary education as a proportion of the total labour force (%) in the metro region.

6 International retirees

Total number of foreign born retirees living in the city as a proportion of the total population. Foreign retirees are defined by their status being foreign born and their belonging to the age-group over 65 years.

7 Perception:

Value of ethnic diversity Ethnic diversity: 10 Ethnic diversity enriches my life; [...]; 1 Ethnic diversity erodes a country's unity. Percentage of people who responded between 6 and 10 (including 6 and 10).

8 Freedom House index

Freedom House Index assesses the current state of political rights and civil liberties from 1 (most free) to 7 (least free).

9 Mercer: Law enforcement

10 A complete code of civil laws is enforced, police corruption is virtually unknown and the laws are applied impartially and efficiently to all inhabitants (e.g. Denmark, Switzerland); 8 Civil laws are democratic and police work is usually efficient, although there may be a small amount of corruption and/or racism within the police force; 6 Civil laws are democratic but police work is not always efficient. Corruption and/or racism in the police force is more widespread; 4 Civil laws are incomplete and one can not rely on the police force to enforce them. Corruption and/or racism is widespread; 2 Unorganised civil law enforcement. Considerable concern for all inhabitants. Corruption and/or racism is prevalent; 0 Virtually no civil laws and no protection of inhabitants. Corruption and/or racism is endemic.

10 Freedom of investment

Investment freedom includes, among other issues, whether there is a foreign investment code that defines the country's investment laws and procedures; whether the government encourages foreign investment through fair and equitable treatment of investors; whether there are restrictions on access to foreign exchange; whether foreign firms are treated the same as domestic firms under the law; whether the government imposes restrictions on payments, transfers, and capital transactions; and whether specific industries are closed to foreign investment. 100-80 free, 79.9-70 mostly free, 69.9-60 moderately free, 59.9-50 mostly unfree, 49.9-0 repressed.

11 Mercer: Media and censorship

10 There is a variety of international channels, broadcast, satellite programs, cable TV, as well as a broad supply of international newspapers. No censorship of any kind is imposed on the media. (e.g. USA); 8 International channels and cable TV are available, as well as a selection of international newspapers. There may be some censorship for cultural reasons, but the media are free to publish political opinions without fear of reprisals; 6 There is a limited choice of TV channels, with some international programs being broadcast. International newspapers are limited but can be obtained. Local media may face pressure to present a favourable image of the government; 4 Very limited in numbers of TV channels and international programs are available. It is difficult to obtain any international newspaper. All films and publications must be approved by a government censor before release; 2 Television is controlled by the government and can be difficult to comprehend with no international programs being broadcast. It is virtually impossible to obtain international newspapers and the local media are severely censored; 0 The media is strictly controlled, and international television and newspapers are forbidden.

12 Accessibility for migrants

Accessiblity for Migrants measures ease of entry, integration and the legal environment for migrants in the host country. The public attitudes to migration and the steps governments take to safeguard their rights are also included. It inlcudes the following indicators: power of trade unions, do migrants face de jure or de facto discrimination in economic or social affairs, ease of hiring foreign nationals, licencing requirments for migrants, ease of family reunification, programmes to integrate migrants, government policy towards migration. 100 represents the highest accessibility.

13 Mercer: Ease of entry and exit

10 Entry and exit regulations are relaxed. Most visitors do not require visas, and work permits are easily obtainable. (e.g. Singapore); 8 Entry and exit regulations are relaxed. Visas are necessary for many foreign nationalities but can easily be obtained, as can work permits; 6 Entry and exit regulations can be difficult or time-consuming (or may be applied in a discriminatory way). Work permits are reasonably easy to obtain; 4 Entry and exit regulations are very time-consuming and visa applications must be submitted well in advance, Customs & Immigration officials may be corrupt or discriminate against certain nationalities or ethnic groups. Work permits are difficult to obtain; 2 Entry and exit regulations are very difficult. For example, visa applications may require documentation in the local language, or a medical certificate including an AIDS test, and/or Customs & Immigration officials are likely to be corrupt, and/or it is very difficult for certain nationalities or ethnic groups to enter the country; 0 It is almost impossible to secure a visa and work permit without influence and/or bribery.

14 Ease of hiring foreign labour

Labor regulation in your country (1 = prevents your company from employing foreign labor, 7 = does not prevent your company from employing foreign labor)

15 Access to property market

Are foreigners allowed to buy property in the city for resident purposes? Index: 100=yes, without restrictions, 75=yes, with permission, 50=yes, but with restrictions, 25=maybe, 0=no

16 Business impact of rules on FDI

In your country, rules governing foreign direct investment (1 = discourage foreign direct investment, 7 = encourage foreign direct investment)?

17 Prevalence of foreign ownership

Foreign ownership of companies in your country is (1 = rare and limited, 7 prevalent and encouraged)

18 Perception: Immigrant policy

Immigrant policy: 4 Let anyone come; 3 As long as jobs available; 2 Strict limits; 1 Prohibit people from coming. Percentage of people who responded 4 or 3.

19 International fairs

Total number of international fairs in the city. The number was determined by firstly counting all fairs with an "international name" (international, global etc.) and secondly all fairs with a proportion of foreign exhibitors greater than 20%.

20 International meetings

Number of international association meetings which must be attended by at least 50 participants, must be organised on a regular basis (one-time events are not included), must move between at least 3 different countries. These association meetings (the largest segments) are scientific; other academic; trade organisations; professional bodies; social groupings. These meetings can differ in types of budget, duration and complexity.

21 Embassies

The number of embassies, consulates as well as general and honorary consuls.

22 International companies

Number of international companies in the cities which are ranked by revenue by the Global Fortune 500.

23 fDi-Benchmark:

Foreign direct investments Number of foreign direct investment projects per year in the city.

24 City classification

Cities are assessed in terms of their integration into the world city network. Alpha++ = cities highest level of integration; sufficiency = cities with sufficiency of services. These are cities that are not world cities as defined here but they have sufficient services so as not to be overtly dependent on world cities. 100 = Alpha++; 92 = Alpha+; 84 = Alpha; 76 = Alpha-; 68 = Beta+; 60 = Beta; 52 = Beta -; 44 = Gamma +; 36 = Gamma; 28 = Gamma -; 20 = Sufficiency+; 12 = Sufficiency; 0 = not mentioned.

25 International organisations

Number of hosted major international institutions and major non-governmental organisations.

26 International students

Sub-Index "International Students" from the QS World University Ranking. Based on the proportion of international students (London=100)

27 Quality of universities

Sum total score of the Shanghai Index. The quality is defined as the highest score of the best university in the "Academic Ranking of World Universities" (the so-called Shanghai Index) by the Institute of Higher Education of Shanghai Jiao Tong University. Ranking 500 Top Universities.

28 Mercer: Availability of high quality schools

10 There is an excellent choice of educational possibilities for children all ages, either in a wide range of international schools or local private schools of world-class standard. 9 There is good choice of educational possibilities for children all ages, either in international schools or local private schools of high standard. 6 There is a reasonable choice of educational possibilities for children of all ages, either in international schools or local private schools. 4 The choice of educational possibilities is limited with few international schools in the city. These may offer a limited number of places, or have restriction on the ages of children they accept. There may have be a few local private schools suitable for the children of expatriates. 2 The choice of educational possibilities is poor. For example, international schools may be located elsewhere in the country but not in this city. Local schools are suitable for expatriate children. 0 International schools do not exist in the country and local schools are not suitable for expatriate children.

29 International schools

Schools which are registered for the International Baccalaureate (IB-schools). International schools were counted by age groups (primary years programme, middle years programme, international diploma).

30 Tourist arrivals

International arrivals include visitors from abroad that arrive in the city under review as their first point of entry, and also includes those visitors to the city that arrived in the country via a different point of entry, but then got on to visit the city in question during their trip (excluded are all day trippers and domestic vistors).

31 International passengers (flight)

The number of international airline passengers divided by the logarithm to the base of 10 of the total airline passengers (domestic, international and direct transit passengers) which are arriving at and departing from the city's airport(s).

32 Number of hotspots

The number of hotspots is the availability of WLAN points within a radius of 10 miles around the city centre combining both free public points by the cities and commercial points by hotels, airports, train stations and fairs. These wireless local area networks make it possible to join the internet in these areas in a fast and consumer-friendly way.

33 Mercer: Telephone

10 Telephone services are reliable and efficient, and both domestic and international calls can be made without problems (e.g. Western Europe, North America); 8 Telephone services are reliable and efficient domestically but international calls can sometimes be problematic; 6 Communication by telephone is not really a problem, but obtaining a line for an international call may take time; 4 Calls can be difficult to place (over 30 minutes waiting time); 2 Calls are very difficult to place (over 2 hours); 0 Calls are exceptionally difficult to make, and communication quality is very poor.

34 Internet users

The number of internet users per 100 population in the country.

35 Mercer: Global accessibility (airport)

10 The airport offers an excellent choice of direct international flights to major destinations on all continents, and is located within 60 minutes of the city. (e.g. London, New York, Frankfurt); 9 The airport offers an excellent choice of direct international flights, but is located more than 60 minutes from the city; 8 The airport offers a good choice of direct international flights and is located within 60 minutes of the city, 7 The airport offers a good choice of direct international flights, but is located more than 60 minutes from the city; 6 The airport offers a fair choice of direct international flights and is located within 60 minutes of the city; 5 The airport offers a fair choice of direct international flights, but is located more than 60 minutes from the city; 4 he airport offers a poor choice of direct international flights and is located within 60 minutes of the city; 3 The airport offers a poor choice of direct international flights, and is located more than 60 minutes from the city; 2 The airport has few direct international flights, although a fair selection of connecting flights is available, and is located within 60 minutes of the city; 1 The airport has few direct international flights, although a fair selection of connecting flights is available, and is located more than 60 minutes from the city; 0 The airport has few direct international flights and the selection of connecting flights is poor.

36 Quality of living

fDi-Benchmark's Quality of Living Index (New York = 100).

37 Total unemployment rate

Total number of residents above 15 and under 65 years old who are without work and who are available and/or looking for paid employment or self-employment in % of the total labour force.

38 Difference unemployment rate

Difference between the unemployment rate of the native and foreign born population: Unemployment rate of the native born minus unemployment rate of the foreign born population.

39 Mercer: Crime

10 Peaceful community with virtually no safety problems (e.g. Japan). 8 Violent crimes sometimes happen, but are not really a concern. 6 Violent crimes happen more often, but are not really a concern provided normal precautions are taken. Some areas should be avoided, especially at night. 4 Violent crimes happen regularly and are a cause for concern even when normal precautions are taken. Some areas should always be avoided. 2 Violent crimes happen often, and pose a constant threat to everyday life. It is not safe to venture out alone. Bodyguard and security guard are normally recommended for the home. 0 Assaults happen daily. Violent crimes and kidnapping are common and can be vicious. It is not safe to venture out alone at any time. Both bodyguard and security guard are essential for protecting the home.

40 Mercer: Hospital services and medical supplies

Hospital services: 10 Excellent standard of care for all kind of treatment, available in either public or private hospitals and clinics (e.g. Switzerland, USA). 8 Good standard of care for most major treatments, available in either public or private hospitals and clinics. 6 Acceptable standard of care available in either public or private hospitals and clinics. 4 Average standard of care for minor operations and other medical procedures, advisable to leave the country for major operations. 2 Poor standard of care, advisable to leave the country for any surgical procedure. 0 Local public hospitals should be avoided. No local private medical facilities, advisable to leave the country for any medical treatment. Medical supplies: 10 A full range of medical supplies, including all common prescription medicines, is available and eaily accessible (e.g. Western Europe, North America). 8 Most medical supplies, including most common prescription medicines, are available and easily accessible. 6 Basic medical supplies, including the most common prescription medicines, are available and accessible. 4 Basic medical supplies are often unavailable locally. 2 Basic medical supplies are not available locally, but can be obtained through international channels. 0 Basic medical supplies are not available locally and are difficult to obtain through international channels.

41 Perception: Trust another religion

Trust: People of another religion: 4 Trust completely; 3 Trust a little; 2 Not trust very much; 1 Not trust at all. Percentage of people who responded 4 or 3.

42 Perception: Trust another nationality

Trust: People of another nationality: 4 Trust completely; 3 Trust a little; 2 Not trust very much; 1 Not trust at all. Percentage of people who responded 4 or 3.

43 GDP per capita

GDP in USD at PPPs (World Bank) per capita

44 GDP change

Average annual growth rates

45 Cost of living

fDi-Benchmark's cost of living index (New York = 100). The index compares the mean prices in the base city to the mean prices in the host city (exchange rates based on 6-months average).

46 Mercer: Housing

Choice, availability and attractiveness of accommodation, including both apartments and houses. Quality and availability of household appliances and furniture.

47 Taxation (high income)

Effective income tax and social security rates on 100'000 USD of gross income.

48 Languages city website

Does the official web-site provide migration-specific information for various groups of international populations at best in various languages?

49 Welcome service

Does a welcome service for international populations exist? Welcome services usually provide a wide range of information for foreign people who are new to the city. This information concerns civic, political and cultural life of the country and the city as well as information about regulations for migrants (access to permanent residence, labour market, recognition of qualifications, etc.). Welcome services also include welcome letters or welcome ceremonies for new immigrants.

50 Migration department

Does a migration-specific administrative department or an inter-departmental committee exist? A migration-specific administrative department coordinates and manages all immigration and diversity affairs, provides information offers and consulting services. Does the city have a permanent consultative committee/organisation which deals with the needs and integration of international populations?

51 Interpreter

Interpreters in the city administration: The city administration (city council) provides interpreters if necessary.

52 Start-coaching programme

Special start-coaching programme for migrants: Start-coaching programmes can be language and/or integration courses as well as assessment centres for labour market integration for migrants.

53 Integration actions

Special actions to increase the feeling of belonging and integration of migrants: Actions to increase belonging and integration can be one-time events as well as general strategies.


OPENCities is a BAKBASEL project in partnership with cities around the world. Our purpose is to build mutually beneficial relationships between people in the UK and other countries and to increase appreciation of the UK's creative ideas and achievements. We are registered in England as a charity.