The Global Liveability Index has now been released for 2018. It’s an annual report from The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) detailing the ‘most liveable’ cities; changes in rankings give an interesting insight into the socio-political factors affecting countries around the world.
The top ten list is dominated by Canada (Calgary, Vancouver and Toronto), Australia (Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide) and Japan (Osaka and Tokyo) with Denmark’s Copenhagen reaching ninth place, the only other European city to make it onto the top ten apart from Vienna.
Vienna is number one for the first time, knocking long-time winner Melbourne off of the top spot where it had been sitting comfortably for the past seven years. So what’s changed in Austria and Australia in the last year? The EIU posits that Vienna’s scores received a boost in the security category, after the headline-grabbing terrorist attacks in European centres so prevalent in recent years calmed somewhat.
The report gives numerical scores to various aspects of a city’s profile in order to evaluate them against each other. Broadly speaking, political and social stability factors highly in the calculations; crime rates also have a heavy weighting. The quality of and access to both education and healthcare are also assessed, along with the general environment and amenities available. Each city is given a number from one to one hundred that reflects how ‘intolerable’ or ‘tolerable’ present conditions are in that category.
Perhaps surprisingly, the cities with the greatest economic power do not typically earn the top scores. For example, this year the financial centres of New York, Paris and London came 57th, 19th and 48th respectively. You might expect that the relatively high wages and the vast array of cultural amenities and opportunities in hugely popular cities such as these would result in a good liveability grade. However, the problems of overcrowding have a detrimental effect on important resources like public transport and raise housing costs, as well as contributing to an uptick in crime.
The Goldilocks principle seems to be an important factor in the liveability index – a city should be big enough that there’s plenty on offer, but not so big that resources are strained. Vienna’s small population (1.8 million), grand cultural legacy, strong café culture and robust infrastructure all combine to make it markedly more comfortable for people to live than busier urban environments, according to the EIU.
Taking a wider view, this report suggests that live-ability has improved globally over the course of the last year. 2017 scored 74.8, which rose to 75.7 in 2018.
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