The 2010 Mercer Quality of Living Survey is based on 39 criteria, including political, socio-economic, environmental, health, education, and transport. In Mercer's eco-city ranking list, Calgary in Canada has taken out the top spot followed by Honolulu in the United States. The only Australian city to make the top ten in the eco-city rankings is Adelaide in seventh position. Criteria for the eco-city ranking include air pollution, traffic congestion, water availability, waste removal and sewage treatment.
Vienna retains the top spot as the city with the world’s best quality of living, according to the Mercer 2010 Quality of Living Survey. Zurich and Geneva follow in second and third position, respectively, while Vancouver and Auckland remain joint fourth in the rankings.
Mercer conducts the ranking to help governments and multi-national companies compensate employees fairly when placing them on international assignments. The rankings are based on a point-scoring index, which sees Vienna score 108.6 and Baghdad 14.7. Cities are ranked against New York as the base city, with an index score of 100.
Mercer’s Quality of Living index list was revised and now covers 221 cities compared to 215 last year, which means direct trend comparison will not be possible until 2011. The new selection includes prominent capital and other major cities from across the world currently available in Mercer’s database and better reflects where companies are sending their expatriate employees in the current business environment.
Slagin Parakatil, Senior Researcher at Mercer, commented: “As the world economy becomes more globalised, cities beyond the traditional financial centres are emerging as attractive places in which to expand or establish a business. Cities in many emerging markets, such as in the Middle East or Asia, have seen a significant influx of foreign companies and their expatriate employees in recent years.”
“To ensure their expatriates are compensated appropriately and an adequate hardship allowance is included in their benefits package, companies seek a clear picture of the quality of living in these cities. We have reviewed our index to reflect these developments and it now better represents the cities that most interest our clients,” Mr Parakatil said.
European cities continue to dominate amongst the top 25 cities in the index. In the UK, London ranks at 39, while Birmingham is at 55 and Glasgow at 57. In the US, the highest ranking entry is Honolulu at position 31, followed by San Francisco at position 32. Singapore (28) is the top-scoring Asian city followed by Tokyo at 40. Baghdad, ranking 221, remains at the bottom of the list.
“Quality of living standards remained relatively stable on a global level throughout 2009 and the first half of 2010, but in certain regions and countries the economic recession had a noticeable impact on the business climate,” according to Mr Parakatil.
“Despite the economic downturn and companies’ efforts to contain costs, quality of living and hardship premiums remain important means of compensating expatriates for differences in living conditions. However, companies are more inclined to review the measurement of such allowances to ensure they are cost-effective."
This year’s ranking also identifies the cities with the best eco-ranking based on water availability and drinkability, waste removal, quality of sewage systems, air pollution and traffic congestion. Calgary is at the top of this index (score 145.7), followed by Honolulu in second place (score 145.1) and Ottawa and Helsinki in joint third (score 139.9). Wellington in New Zealand (5), Minneapolis (6), Adelaide (7) and Copenhagen fill the next four slots, while Kobe, Oslo and Stockholm share ninth place. Port-au-Prince in Haiti ranks at the bottom of this table with a score of only 27.8 (see attached table).
Mr Parakatil commented: “A high-ranking eco-city optimises its use of renewable energy sources and generates the lowest possible quantity of pollution (air, water, noise, etc). A city’s eco-status or attitude toward sustainability can have significant impact on the quality of living of its inhabitants. As a consequence these are also pertinent issues for companies that send employees and their families on long-term assignments abroad, especially considering the vast majority of expatriates are relocated to urban areas.”
“A certain standard of sustainability is essential for city living and forms a very important part of its inhabitants’ quality of living. Though a high standard of living may be taken for granted in certain cities, a lack thereof is much more noticeable and can even lead to severe hardship,” said Mr Parakatil.
Top 50 cities: Quality of living ranking
Base City: New York, US (=100)
|Rank 2010||City||Country||Qol index 2010|
|32||SAN FRANCISCO||UNITED STATES||103|
|49||NEW YORK CITY||UNITED STATES||100|
Top 50 cities: Eco-City ranking
Base City: New York, US (=100)
*Eco-City Ranking 2010 includes the following criteria: Water availability, water potability, waste removal, sewage, air pollution and traffic congestion.
|Rank 2010||City||Country||Eco-city index* 2010|
|30||CAPE TOWN||SOUTH AFRICA||129.4|
|43||ST. LOUIS||UNITED STATES||126.6|