Smaller cities in high-income economies dominate the top tier of EIU’s 2016 ranking -- they enjoy the benefit of top-notch social and cultural amenities, without having to deal with congestion and higher crime rate.
How do you measure a city’s liveability? The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) measures its annual urban liveability index using a number of fixed parameters, namely the city’s stability and safety, educational and cultural offerings, infrastructure, healthcare, and environmental quality.
Small to medium-sized cities in high-income economies dominate the top tier of EIU’s 2016 ranking, with all cities ranked within the top ten, except for Toronto, having less than five million inhabitants.
These cities were able to provide top-notch amenities for its residents without having to deal with the fall-out of high density population and higher crime rate.
Melbourne, with its meticulously maintained public parks and world-class universities, came out tops in the survey of 140 cities for the sixth year running. Three other Australian cities – Adelaide, Perth and Sydney – were ranked 5,7 and 11.
Vienna keeps its runner-up spot, backed by its strong cultural offerings, from its quintessential coffeehouses to its opera houses. The multicultural melting pot of Vancouver, favoured in Canada for its pleasant coastal climate, occupies the third spot.
“(While) global business centers such as New York,London, Paris and Tokyo may be considered prestigious business and finance hubs, with a wealth of recreational activity, but they also suffered from higher crime rates, congestion and public transportation problems.
"It brings down their environment scores and their scores for transport," said (EIU chief economist Simon) Baptist.
The highest ranking Asian cities are Japanese, with Tokyo and Osaka claiming the 13th and 14th positions. Major regional hubs Hong Kong and Singapore climbed the ranks by a few places to 43rd and 46th, respectively.
"Baptist explained that both cities rank in the top rating of livability, with Singapore beating Hong Kong by having better infrastructure. But the city-state was penalized by a warm, humid climate - something outside Singapore's control ...”
In the ASEAN region, Kuala Lumpur is second in rank after Singapore, followed by Bandar Seri Begawan, Bangkok, and Manila Kuala Lumpur and Singapore achieve high scores in stability, education and infrastructure, but have relatively lower culture and environment score. Kuala Lumpur’s strength in infrastructure has put the city on parity with several European Union cities like Lisbon and Warsaw.
The EIU said that the past year has seen increasing instability across the world, causing volatility in the scores of many cities.
“The continuing weakening of global stability scores has been made uncomfortably apparent - violent acts of terrorism have been reported in many countries, including Turkey, Australia, Bangladesh, France, Belgium and the US."
"In total, there are just six cities with improved scores over the past 12 months,” the report said.