The Economist Intelligence Unit has published the results of its annual Global Liveability Index, with European and Canadian cities mainly making up the top ten. Jenny Southan reports
The EIU has revealed that Vienna has once again been ranked the “world’s most liveable city”, scoring highly on all five metrics (education, healthcare, culture and environment, stability, and infrastructure) in its Global Liveability Index. Copenhagen, Calgary, Zurich and Vancouver round out the top five.
Overall, European and Canadian cities dominate the top ten, while New Zealand and Australian cities, which triumphed last year, have tumbled by comparison.
While the lifting of lockdowns has seen an uptick in scores across locations tracked by the index, liveability conditions in some eastern European cities have been negatively impacted amid the war in Ukraine.
The average liveability index for 2022 shows a significant rebound since last year, as scores for culture, education and healthcare rise in most cities following the lifting of Covid-related restrictions.
However, the index remains below pre-pandemic levels as stability deteriorates in several eastern European cities following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. We had to exclude Kiev (Ukraine) from our survey, while Moscow and St Petersburg (Russia) saw their rankings fall.
Globally, the average index has rebounded to 73.6 (out of 100), up from 69.1 a year ago, as scores for culture and environment, education and healthcare improve. However, the index remains below the average of 75.9 reported just before the pandemic.
The scores for infrastructure remain broadly stable, but stability has deteriorated in many cities, owing largely to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. While Kiev had to be excluded from the rankings, cities in Russia saw their rankings fall sharply. Moscow fell by 15 places, while St Petersburg fell by 13 places.
Wellington (-46) was the biggest faller in the rankings, followed by Auckland (-33). The latter came top in last year’s rankings when New Zealand closed international borders and allowed city life to continue much as normal amid the pandemic.
However, with covid restrictions being lifted in much of the world, New Zealand (as well as Australian and Chinese) cities have seen a comparative decline in the rankings. This has allowed well-vaccinated European and Canadian cities to dominate the top ten again, with the German cities of Frankfurt (+32) and Hamburg (+31) being the biggest gainers.
There has been little movement among the ten least liveable cities. As in previous surveys, living conditions remain worst in Damascus, the capital of Syria. Also scraping along the bottom are Tripoli in Libya, Lagos in Nigeria and Algiers in Algeria.
Wars, conflicts and terrorism are the biggest factors impacting liveability in these cities, although Lagos and Algiers have seen their scores lifted slightly as the pandemic eases.
The number of cities in this year’s index has increased from 139 to 172 (excluding Kiev in both these numbers), to match the EIU’s Worldwide Cost of Living Survey. Many of the new entrants, such as Surabaya (Indonesia) and Chongqing (China), are already fast-growing business destinations. The highest-ranked new city is Rotterdam (Netherlands), at 28.
Upasana Dutt, head of liveability index at EIU, says: “The Covid-19 pandemic adversely affected global liveability in 2021, but we have seen a marked improvement in most cities in this year’s index with the reopening of shops, restaurants and museums.
“Education has emerged stronger with children returning to schools alongside a significantly reduced burden on hospitals and healthcare systems. This has allowed the fundamental attractions of cities such as Vienna to re-emerge, making it the most liveable city again after 2018 and 2019 when it had topped the rankings.
“Even so, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has undermined stability. Eastern European cities have slipped in rankings amid increased geopolitical risks. Our biggest concern now is the impact that the cost-of-living crisis, including the soaring prices of energy and food, will have on liveability, particularly on stability scores around the world. That may affect the recovery in next year’s index.”
|Regional average liveability scores in 2022 (172 cities)|
|Region||Overall Index||Stability||Healthcare||Culture &
|Asia & Australasia||69.0||76.3||61.3||61.5||74.4||73.9|
|Central & Eastern Europe||69.0||70.4||60.6||69.2||75.7||72.3|
|Middle East & North Africa||58.1||61.9||55.8||49.0||64.3||64.0|
|The most liveable cities in the world|
|City||Location||Rank||Index||Stability||Healthcare||Culture & Environment||Education||Infrastructure|