Australia


Australian and Canadian cities dominate annual liveability index

by Ray Clancy on August 26, 2014

Australian and Canadian cities dominate an annual index of the world’s most liveable cities with Melbourne named as the top location, followed by Vienna and Vancouver.

Overall, there are four Australian cities in the top 10 of the annual international index, which is produced by the Economist Intelligence Unit. Adelaide clocked in at fifth place, Sydney in seventh and Perth in ninth.

Survey ranks Melbourne as the most liveable city

The annual index ranks Melbourne as the most liveable city

Other cities in the top 10 include Toronto and Calgary in Canada, Helsinki, Finland and Auckland, New Zealand.

Melbourne tops the list of 140 cities and achieved perfect scores of 100 in the healthcare, education and infrastructure categories, as well as in the sub-category of sport. It also performed well in the other criteria of stability, and culture and environment.

At the other end of the table, many of the lowest scores are in areas of conflict. As the report explains, this is partly due to low scores for stability, but also because factors defining stability have an adverse effect on other scores.

The bottom of the list includes Damascus in Syria, followed by Dhaka in Bangladesh, Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea, Lagos in Nigeria and Karachi in Pakistan.

The study concluded that the cities that ranked best were all mid-sized cities in wealthier countries. The report found that these cities typically had lower population densities which had a direct effect on crime levels and the efficiency of the infrastructure.

Over the past six months, only nine cities of 140 surveyed have experienced changes in scores and only 20 cities, 14% of those surveyed, have seen changes over the past year. The report points out that over half of the changes taking place over the past 12 months have been driven by deteriorating scores, with instability re-emerging as a key factor in influencing global scores.

‘Events in Ukraine, in particular, have had significant knock-on effects for cities such as Kiev, Moscow and St. Petersburg. Localised instability has also affected locations like Bangkok. The score of Damascus in Syria has continued to decline, although the escalation in Iraq is not reflected in our ranking because Baghdad is not included in the survey. Despite events in Israel, Tel Aviv’s rating is unchanged, largely because the existing stability score already accounted for the unrest now taking place,’ the report explains.

Cities registering improvements are largely based in countries that have enjoyed periods of relative stability following significant falls in liveability. Tehran in Iran, Tripoli in Libya and Amman in Jordan have seen liveability levels recover slightly after sharp falls in previous years. A period of relative stability in Zimbabwe has put Harare on an upward trend in terms of liveability, although the city remains in the very bottom tier of liveability, as do Tripoli and Tehran.

At a global level, average instability continues to see marginal declines, with sharp falls in specific hotspots weighing on a more static global backdrop. The average global liveability score has fallen by 0.16 and 0.22% over the last six and 12 months respectively, to 75.33.

When a five year view is taken, global liveability has declined by 0.68%, highlighting the fact that the last five years have been characterised by heightened unrest in the wake of the global economic crisis, which has undermined many of the developmental gains that cities may have experienced through public policy and investment.

Over five years 82 of the 140 cities surveyed have seen some change in overall liveability scores. Of these cities, 51 have seen declines in liveability. Three cities in particular, Kiev, Tripoli and Damascus, have seen significant declines of 17.8, 18.1 and 28.3, respectively; this illustrates that conflict is, unsurprisingly, the key factor in undermining wider liveability.

For the very top tier of cities, with scores of over 80%, there is no change to report over the past 12 months. Many cities have seen levels of unrest stabilise as economies recover from the global and euro-zone crises, but austerity and tighter fiscal budgets may also have slowed planned improvements, meaning that scores have remained static.

‘With such high scores already in place and with the slow nature of change for improvement, the overall impact on the top tier of cities is marginal and is likely to remain so, barring a significantly disruptive event. The performance of the most liveable cities reflects minimal variation between the scores of the top locations,’ the report adds.

Some 64 cities are in the top tier of liveability, where few problems are encountered. Although 16.8% points separate Melbourne in first place and Santiago in 64th place, both cities can lay claim to being on an equal footing in terms of presenting few, if any, challenges to residents’ lifestyles, it concludes.

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