Vienna displaces Melbourne as the world’s most liveable city in a year that has seen significant changes to global ranking

Austria’s capital city, Vienna, is the most liveable city in the world, according to a new survey. The European capital displaced Melbourne from a regular ranking from the Economist Intelligence Unit, ending a record seven consecutive years at the head of the survey for the Australian city.


Summary:

  • Vienna is the most liveable city in the world, according to the Global Liveability Ranking for 2018 from the Economist Intelligence Unit;
  • The Austrian capital displaced Melbourne from the regular ranking, ending a record seven consecutive years at the head of the survey for the Australian city;
  • The top positions in the study are dominated by cities in Australia, Canada and Japan, holding eight of the top ten positions;
  • Upwards movement in the top ranked cities is a reflection of “improvements seen in stability and safety across most regions in the past year,” claims the report.

Although both Melbourne and Vienna have registered improvements in liveability over the last six months, according to the Global Liveability Ranking for 2018, increases in Vienna’s ratings, particularly in the stability category, have been enough for the city to overtake Melbourne. The two cities are now separated by 0.7 of a percentage point, with Vienna scoring a near-ideal 99.1 out of 100 and Melbourne scoring 98.4.

Vienna has been a long-time contender for the title, but is one of only two European nations to make it into the top ten of the ranking – the other is the Danish capital, Copenhagen, which was ranked  ninth after its score increased by 3.3 percentage points since the last survey cycle.

The top positions in the study, which looks at 140 cities from around the world and scores them on stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education and infrastructure, is dominated by cities in Australia, Canada and Japan, which together hold eight of the top ten positions.

Following on from Vienna and Melbourne, Osaka in Japan was ranked third followed by Calgary in Canada in fourth, while Sydney was fifth. The sixth spot is taken by Vancouver while there is a tie for seventh between Tokyo and Toronto. Copenhagen was ranked ninth, while Adelaide sneaked into tenth place, the third Australian city in the top ten.

CHART – Vienna, Melbourne, Osaka, Calgaryand Sydney head the Global Liveability Ranking for 2018, but Port Moresby, Karachi, Lagos, Dhaka and Damascus are ranked the lowest of the 140 surveyed citiesSource: Global Liveability Ranking for 2018

Osaka stands out amongst these cities having climbed six positions over the past six months, closing the gap with Melbourne. It is now separated from the former top-ranked city by a mere 0.7 of a percentage point. Osaka’s improvements in scores for quality and availability of public transportation, as well as a consistent decline in crime rates, have contributed to higher ratings in the infrastructure and stability categories respectively, according to the ranking.

Upwards movement in the top ranked cities is a reflection of “improvements seen in stability and safety across most regions in the past year,” claims the report. Whereas in the past, cities in Europe have been affected by the spreading perceived threat of terrorism in the region, which caused heightened security measures, the past six months have seen a return to normalcy, it explains. Yet, the data shows that during this period, 116 cities of the 140 surveyed have experienced changes in their ranking position. This rises to 128 cities when looking at changes over the past year.

Interestingly, the ranking movements within the top ten do not necessarily arise from a change in liveability in the cities themselves, but actually reflect how cities compare with one another. Four cities have dropped out of the top ten over the past year – Auckland (from 8th to 12th), Perth (from 7th to 14th), Helsinki (from 9th to 16th) and Hamburg (from 10th to 18th) – but none of these have actually seen a fall in their overall scores during this period.

CHART – Abidjan, Hanoi and Belgrade have been the biggest improvers over the past five years, while Damascus, San Juan and Kiev have seen the biggest declinesSource: Global Liveability Ranking for 2018

The report highlights that of the 140 surveyed cities, 49% registered negative changes in their overall liveability rank in the past six months and 34% experienced positive movements (the rest did not record any change). Yet, despite the total number of negative movements outweighing the positive ones, the rankings show that overall liveability across all cities surveyed increased by 0.7% in the past six months and 0.9% in the past year. Improvements were recorded across all five categories measured – infrastructure, stability, education, healthcare, and culture and environment -but especially in stability, which increased by 2.5% overall.

Only ten cities have registered a decline in their liveability ratings over the past six months, according to the rankings, largely reflecting an impact on cultural and environmental indicators. The only cities that have seen a fall in their stability indicators over the past six months are Abu Dhabi (71st) and Dubai (69th) in the United Arab Emirates (UAE); Colombo (130th) in Sri Lanka and Warsaw (65th) in Poland.

The impact of improving stability is most apparent when a five-year view of the global average scores is taken. Overall, the global average liveability score has increased by 0.15%, to 75.7%, over the past five years, while the average stability rating has increased by 1.3%. Although the threat of terrorism has indeed caused a decline in liveability over a longer period – the global average liveability score has decreased by 0.4% in the past decade – an improvement in scores over the past five years suggests a gradual return to relative stability.