"Most Liveable Cities Index"

by Marlena Zakrzewska on May 13, 2014

I have recently spent some time studying the development of the cities from social behavioural point of view, and throughout my research I came across an interesting article regarding the world’s most liveable cities. Obviously, this informal rank of cities provokes lots of discussions and controversy, since what makes a city truly “liveable” is subjective. Also, according to Joel Kotkin from Forbes, what makes a “great” city on one list can serve as a detriment on another.

City 1

Nevertheless, there are three examples of list of cities rank on a reputable annual survey of living conditions:

  • Monocle’s "Most Liveable Cities Index"
  • The Economist Intelligence Unit’s "Liveability Ranking and Overview"
  • "Mercer Quality of Living Survey"

I would like to have a closer look at the annual list of liveable cities published by the lifestyle magazine Monocle, named "The Most Liveable Cities Index", which focuses on the 25 top locations for quality of life. The most important criteria in this survey are: safety/crime, international connectivity, climate/sunshine, quality of architecture, public transportation, tolerance, environmental issues and access to nature, urban design, business conditions, pro-active policy developments and medical care (Monocle).

The full details are up for review in Monocle’s July/August issue but, in the meantime, here is the 2013 ranking of large and small cities (FT):

  1. City - 3Copenhagen
  2. Melbourne
  3. Helsinki
  4. Tokyo
  5. Vienna
  6. Zürich
  7. Stockholm
  8. Munich
  9. Sydney
  10. Auckland
  11. Hong Kong
  12. Fukuoka
  13. Kyoto
  14. Paris
  15. Singapore
  16. Hamburg
  17. Honolulu
  18. Madrid
  19. Vancouver
  20. Berlin
  21. Barcelona
  22. Amsterdam
  23. Portland
  24. San Francisco
  25. Düsseldorf

I agree with Joel Kotkin from Forbes that to understand these results, one must look carefully at the criteria these surveys used. However, most of these regions suffer only a limited underclass and support a relatively small population of children. In fact, most of the cities are in countries with low birth rates. These places make ideal locales for groups like travelling corporate executives, academics and researchers targeted by such surveys. A great city, as Rene Descartes wrote of 17th century Amsterdam, should be “an inventory of the possible”, a place of imagination that attracts ambitious migrants, families and entrepreneurs.

City - 2

Also, I find it very intriguing that often places that are by nature very chaotic and difficult to navigate can be equally aspirational, as they draw people not for a restful visit or elegant repast but to achieve some sort of upward mobility, as fairly pointed out by Kotkin (Forbes). Therefore, it is crucial to remember that what really encourages global culture or commerce, are growth and change and, as a consequence, great cities remain raw places, filled with the sights and smells of diverse cultures.

About Marlena Zakrzewska :

Marlena is a consultant with Bearing, with a strong background in analysis, cognitive and behavioural studies and innovation.

Marlena was educated at King’s College London and Humboldt University Berlin, and has been involved in extensive studies regarding social psychology and consumer behaviour.

She believes that by understanding what affects behaviour and, by extension, how to influence behaviour, both organisations and individuals can become more successful. Understanding exactly how small changes to the details of an offer can influence the way people react to it is crucial to unlock significant value.

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