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13 Sep 2016

The World's Most Liveable Cities

The Economist Intelligence Unit has released its latest "liveable city" ranking, with 140 of the world's greatest cities measured across 30 fields. The index considers factors related to safety, health care, educational resources, infrastructure, and the environment, with Melbourne topping the list once again. Australia and Canada were very well represented in the top ten with three cities each, with other top ten nations including Austria, New Zealand, Finland, and Germany.

Melbourne was recognised as the world's most liveable city for the sixth year in a row, with a very healthy score of 97.5 out of 100. Vienna was a close second with a score of 97.4, followed by Vancouver with 97.3, Toronto with 97.2, Calgary with 96.6, Adelaide with 96.6, Perth with 95.9, Auckland with 95.7, Helsinki with 95.6, and Hamburg with 95. Sydney has fallen by four places, moving out of the ten due to a heightened perceived threat of terrorism.

The liveability score is reached through category weights, which are equally divided into relevant subcategories. Stability represents 25 percent of the total, with healthcare representing 20 percent, culture and environment 25 percent, education 10 percent, and infrastructure 20 percent. Within these categories, indicators are scored as acceptable, tolerable, uncomfortable, undesirable, or intolerable depending on a number of quantitative and qualitative variables. Cities that scored well in the index were all mid-sized cities in wealthier countries with a relatively low population density.

For example, population densities in Australia and Canada are 3.1 and 3.9 people per square kilometre respectively, with New Zealand and Finland recording densities of approximately 18 people per square kilometre. This is much smaller than the global land average of 57 people and the US land average of 35 people, with Austria the only city bucking this trend with a density of 104 people per square kilometre. It seems the “big city buzz” of places like New York, London, and Tokyo can overstretch infrastructure and lead to higher crime rates, both of which lower liveability.

Worldwide terrorism continues to shake up stability, with actual attacks and the perceived threat of attacks leading to deteriorating stability across the world. 16 cities of the 140 surveyed have experienced changing scores over the past six months, with this figure rising to 35 cities over the past year. Of these changes, the vast majority have been negative, with 29 cities out of 35 in the past 12 months experiencing a drop in scores due to decreased stability. This represents a quarter of all cities, with Paris, Atlanta, San Francisco, and Chicago all experiencing significant drops due to terrorist attacks or civil unrest. 

According to the report: "The continuing weakening of global stability scores has been made uncomfortably apparent by a number of high-profile incidents that have not shown any signs of slowing in recent years. Violent acts of terrorism have been reported in many countries, including Turkey, Australia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, France, Belgium and the US." Political unrest and civil war have also have a negative influence on liveability scores, with Libya, Syria, Iraq, and Ukraine all facing continued armed conflict. According to the index, the least liveable city in the world is Damascus in Syria, followed by Tripoli in Libya and Lagos in Nigeria.


Image source: zhu difeng /