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·         Melbourne is the most liveable for the third year running, followed by Vienna and Vancouver

·         The past five years have seen global liveability slip by 0.6%, led by a 1.3% fall in the score for stability and safety

·         The Arab Spring has been most influential in pushing down global liveability, but unrest in Europe and China have also contributed

·         Ongoing civil war in Syria has made Damascus the least liveable city in the ranking

 

A variety of events, from the Arab Spring to austerity protests and unrest in China, have all contributed to making the world a less liveable place over the past five years, according to the latest findings of The Economist Intelligence Unit's Global Liveability Ranking. The ranking, which provides scores for lifestyle challenges in 140 cities worldwide, shows that since 2008 liveability across the world has fallen by 0.6%, led by a 1.3% fall in the score for stability and safety. 

Melbourne tops the ranking for the third year running, followed by Vienna and Vancouver. However, this apparent stability hides longer-term trends that become apparent when taking a five-year view. Only 28 cities of the 140 surveyed have registered changes in the last 12 months, but 86 cities have experienced a change in liveability over the past five years. Of these, just 30 have seen an improvement in scores, while 56 have seen liveability levels declining.

Jon Copestake, editor of the survey, comments, "Liveability often seems static on a year-to-year basis. But looking at movement over a longer period we can see some significant trends emerging. While the threat of terror had a defining influence on liveability in the last decade, we can clearly see that civil unrest has already had a significant impact on liveability in this decade"

The past five years have seen civil unrest becoming a globally destabilising factor, with a number of different reasons for discontent. The most significant of these has been the Arab Spring, which has affected a number of countries in the Middle East and North Africa, notably the ongoing protests in Egypt and the civil wars in Syria and Libya. This means that Damascus, Tripoli and Cairo have seen the sharpest declines over the past five years, with the Syrian capital in particular seeing a 20% decline in liveability and moving to the very bottom of the ranking.

But austerity and feelings of disenfranchisement have led to rioting and protests in western Europe as well, notably in Greece, but also in the UK and most recently in Spain. In China, which has seen improving liveability levels over the past five years due to investment in infrastructure and higher living standards, there has been heightened unrest triggered by a range of social problems, most notably anti-Japanese rioting during August and September last year.

Yet it has not all been doom and gloom; there have been some positive changes in liveability over the past five years. Bogota in Colombia has seen the sharpest rise in liveability as the threat from terrorism, violence and kidnappings related to guerrilla activity has declined. Equally, while current elections are disputed, a more stable situation has prompted a rise in liveability for Harare, although the Zimbabwean capital remains in the bottom five cities of the ranking.

          A summary of the full report can be downloaded at http://www.eiu.com/Liveability2013

 

Ten of the best: The most improved liveability scores over five years

City

Country

Rank (out of 140)

Overall Rating (100=ideal)

five year movement %

Bogota

Colombia

111

59.6

+7.9

Harare

Zimbabwe

136

40.7

+3.2

Dubai

UAE

77

74.2

+2.9

Algiers

Algeria

134

40.9

+2.9

Kuwait City

Kuwait

81

72.1

+2.5

Dhaka

Bangladesh

139

38.7

+2.5

Taipei

Taiwan

61

83.9

+2.0

Colombo

Sri Lanka

128

49.8

+1.8

Bratislava

Slovakia

63

81.5

+1.7

Phnom Penh

Cambodia

126

51.4

+1.6

 

Ten of the worst: The biggest declines in liveability over five years

City

Country

Rank (out of 140)

Overall Rating (100=ideal)

five year movement %

Damascus

Syria

140

38.4

-20.4

Tripoli

Libya

133

41.7

-19.9

Cairo

Egypt

122

53.6

-5.9

Sofia

Bulgaria

87

70.5

-4.9

Amman

Jordan

103

64.2

-4.1

Panama City

Panama

97

67.8

-3.8

Tunis

Tunisia

104

62.6

-3.8

Muscat

Oman

88

69.7

-3.7

Reykjavik

Iceland

54

88

-3.3

Nairobi

Kenya

124

51.9

-2.9

 

The top five cities in the current survey

Country

City

Rank

Overall Rating (100=ideal)

Stability

Healthcare

Culture & Environment

Education

Infrastructure

Australia

Melbourne

1

97.5

95

100

95.1

100

100

Austria

Vienna

2

97.4

95

100

94.4

100

100

Canada

Vancouver

3

97.3

95

100

100

100

92.9

Canada

Toronto

4

97.2

100

100

97.2

100

89.3

Canada

Calgary

5

96.6

100

100

89.1

100

96.4

Australia

Adelaide

5

96.6

95

100

94.2

100

96.4

 

The bottom five cities in the latest survey

Country

City

Rank

Overall Rating (100=ideal)

Stability

Healthcare

Culture & Environment

Education

Infrastructure

Zimbabwe

Harare

136

40.7

35

20.8

55.8

66.7

35.7

Nigeria

Lagos

137

38.9

25

33.3

53.5

33.3

46.4

PNG

Port Moresby

137

38.9

30

37.5

44.2

50

39.3

Bangladesh

Dhaka

139

38.7

50

28.2

43.3

41.7

26.8

Syria

Damascus

140

38.4

20

41.7

47.9

41.7

44.6

 

END

About The Economist Intelligence Unit

The Economist Intelligence Unit (The EIU) is the world's leading resource for economic and business research, forecasting and analysis. It provides accurate and impartial intelligence for companies, government agencies, financial institutions and academic organisations around the globe, inspiring business leaders to act with confidence since 1946. EIU products include its flagship Country Reports service, providing political and economic analysis for 195 countries, and a portfolio of subscription-based data and forecasting services. The company also undertakes bespoke research and analysis projects on individual markets and business sectors. More information is available at www.eiu.com

The EIU is headquartered in London, UK, with offices in more than 40 cities and a network of some 650 country experts and analysts worldwide. It operates independently as the business-to-business arm of The Economist Group, the leading source of analysis on international business and world affairs.

 

About the Liveability survey

The concept of liveability is simple: it assesses which locations around the world provide the best or the worst living conditions. Assessing liveability has a broad range of uses, from benchmarking perceptions of development levels to assigning a hardship allowance as part of expatriate relocation packages.

The Economist Intelligence Unit's liveability rating, part of the Worldwide Cost of Living Survey, quantifies the challenges that might be presented to an individual's lifestyle in 140 cities worldwide. Each city is assigned a score for over 30 qualitative and quantitative factors across five broad categories:

  • Stability
  • Healthcare
  • Culture and environment
  • Education
  • Infrastructure

Each factor in each city is rated as acceptable, tolerable, uncomfortable, undesirable or intolerable. For qualitative indicators, a rating is awarded based on the judgment of in–house analysts and in–city contributors. For quantitative indicators, a rating is calculated based on the relative performance of a number of external data points. The categories are compiled and weighted to provide an overall rating of 1–100, where 1 is considered intolerable and 100 is considered ideal. The report considers that any city with a rating of 80 or more will have few, if any, challenges to living standards. Liveability scores can be scaled as follows:

The suggested liveability scale

Rating

Description

80–100

There are few, if any, challenges to living standards

70–80

Day–to–day living is fine, in general, but some aspects of life may entail problems

60–70

Negative factors have an impact on day-to-day living

50–60

Liveability is substantially constrained

50 or less

Most aspects of living are severely restricted

 

The survey gives an overall rating of 0-100, where 1 is intolerable and 100 is ideal