2007 World-wide quality of living survey
2007 Worldwide Quality of Living Survey
by Mercer Human Resource Consulting has found that four of the world’s five
top-scoring cities for health and sanitation are in North America. Calgary ranks
top with a score of 131.7, followed by Honolulu, which scores 130.3. Helsinki –
the only European city in the top five – follows closely in the rankings with a
score of 128.5. Ottawa and Minneapolis take fourth and fifth places with scores
of 127.2 and 125.7 respectively.
Scores are based on the quality and
availability of hospital and medical supplies and levels of air pollution and
infectious diseases. The efficiency of waste removal and sewage systems, water
potability and the presence of harmful animals and insects are also taken into
Cities are ranked against New York as the base
city which has an index score of 100. The analysis is part of Mercer’s Worldwide
Quality of Living Survey, covering 215 cities, which is conducted to help
governments and major companies to place employees on international assignments.
“Companies managing a global workforce must take into account a range of factors
when structuring remuneration packages for their expatriate employees,” said
Yvonne Sonsino, principal at Mercer. “Organisations can struggle to find
suitably qualified local staff when operating overseas and so rely on benchmark
data to ensure the rewards they offer encourage employees with transferable
skills to accept international assignments.”
The lowest-ranking city for health and
sanitation is Baku in Azerbaijan, which scores just 27.6. Other low-scoring
cities include Dhaka in Bangladesh, Antananarivo in Madagascar and Port Au
Prince in Haiti, which score 29.6, 30.1 and 34 respectively.
“Poor countries often lack adequate medical
infrastructure including hospitals and health networks. Furthermore, provision
of care is hampered by poor sanitation and unsafe water facilities in many
areas,” said Slagin Parakatil, senior researcher at Mercer. “The development of
efficient waste removal and sewage systems, coupled with government investment
in medical infrastructure, will be key to avoiding pandemic outbreaks of
diseases and for improving general living standards.”
Europe, Middle East and Africa health and
Almost half of the 30 top-scoring cities
surveyed are in Western Europe. Helsinki has the highest score for the region,
at position 3 with a rating of 128.5. Oslo, Stockholm and Zurich all rank 6th
with a score of 125. London is ranked 63 with a score of 111.2.
Most Eastern European cities have relatively
low scores, except for Prague in the Czech Republic which scores highest, at
position 75 with a score of 101.3. Russian cities have the poorest scores in
this area. Moscow, St. Petersburg, Novosibirsk and Kazan take positions 201,184,
182 and 174 respectively with ratings of 43.4, 50.5, 51.1 and 54.
Abu Dhabi and Dubai are the highest-ranking
Middle Eastern cities and share position 58 with a score of 112.9. African
cities typically rank in lower positions than their European and Middle Eastern
counterparts, with many appearing in the 20 bottom-scoring cities.
“The availability of public and private
hospital care, together with modern medical infrastructure, means healthcare
standards in Europe are generally very high. Medical provision in the Middle
East, especially the United Arab Emirates, has also benefited from substantial
government investment,” said Mr. Parakatil. “In impoverished countries - where
medical care and sanitation are often poor - it can be advisable for expatriates
to seek private treatment.”
Americas health and sanitation rankings
All of the Canadian cities covered by the
survey appear in the top 25 rankings for health and sanitation. Calgary is
followed by Ottawa in position 4 with a score of 127.2. Montreal and Vancouver
both rank in 10th place (score 123.7). Toronto is at position 21 with a rating
In the US, Honolulu ranks highest followed by
Minneapolis in 5th place scoring 125.7. Boston, Lexington and Pittsburgh rank
joint 10th with a score of 123.7. Mexico City scores poorly at position 211
with a rating of 37.7; geographical issues and a high level of air pollution
explain this low ranking. Other low-scoring cities in North America are Atlanta
and Houston, in positions 96 and 103 respectively with scores of 92.3 and 85.2.
Mr. Parakatil said: “Growing traffic
congestion, industrial plants and other pollutants reduce air quality in some
American cities, which may undermine the otherwise pleasant living standards.”
Cities in Central and South America tend to
feature much lower in the rankings than those in North America. San Juan in
Puerto Rico ranks highest in 67th place (score 108.9). Port Au Prince is the
lowest-ranking city in the region, in position 212 with an index of 34.
Asia-Pacific health and sanitation rankings
Auckland and Wellington in New Zealand rank in
joint 18th place, with a rating of 123.1. All the Australian cities covered by
the survey rank higher than New York, the base city. Adelaide is the
highest-scoring city in Australia at position 35 (score 119.5) while Sydney is
the lowest in 62nd place (score 111.3).
Japan is home to the five highest-rated cities in Asia. Katsuyama leads in 9th
position with a score of 123.8, followed by Kobe and Omuta in joint 25th place
(score 122). Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka come in joint 53rd place and score 113.5.
Elsewhere in this region, Singapore ranks in
50th place with a score of 114, while Hong Kong is at position 117 and scores
80.8. Shanghai and Beijing are China’s highest and lowest-ranking cities in
134th and 166th place respectively (scoring 73.8 and 60.3). Modernisation of
medical infrastructure has improved living standards in these Chinese
cities. However, air pollution and inadequate waste removal and sewage systems
are still a concern – particularly in Beijing.
Indian cities score relatively poorly for
health and sanitation, with scores ranging from 52.8 for Chennai (position 177)
to 38.2 for Mumbai (position 209). Most Indian cities are densely populated with
poor waste removal and sewage systems. These issues, combined with increasing
air pollution, contribute to their relatively low ratings.
“Expatriates on assignment in some locations -
for example Africa, the Middle East and some parts of Asia, Europe and Latin
America - can face harsher living conditions and lower standards of medical care
and facilities than they are accustomed to,” commented Mr Parakatil. “The threat
of infectious diseases and environmental risks are very real in some cities and
should be taken into account. Migration and mobility can exacerbate the
transmission of diseases, and this should be a top concern for employers
managing international assignments.”
Rankings for overall quality of living
Mercer’s overall ranking for quality of living
has revealed that Zurich again ranks as the world’s top city, with a rating of
108.1. The city narrowly out-ranks Geneva, which scores 108. Vancouver and
Vienna follow in joint third place and score 107.7.
Cities in Europe and Australia continue to
dominate the top end of the rankings for overall quality of living. Auckland and
D?sseldorf share joint fifth place and score 107.3 points. Frankfurt and Munich
follow with scores of 107.1 and 106.9 respectively. Bern and Sydney both score
106.5 points and share joint 9th place.
The analysis is based on an evaluation of 39
quality of living criteria for each city including political, social, economic
and environmental factors, personal safety and health, education, transport and
other public services.
Baghdad remains the world’s least enticing city
for expatriates with a score of 14.5. Other low-scoring cities for overall
quality of living include Brazzaville in Congo (29.5), Bangui in the Central
African Republic (30.6) and Khartoum in Sudan (31).
Mr. Parakatil concluded: “In recent years, the
gap between low-ranking and high-ranking cities has widened. While standards
have improved in some regions, there remains a stark contrast between those
cities where overall quality of living is good and those experiencing political
and economic turmoil.”
Editors: Data was largely collected between September and November 2006
and is regularly updated to take account of changing circumstances. In
particular, the assessments will be revised in the case of any new
developments. The Mercer database contains more than 350 cities, however only
215 cities have been considered for the quality of living 2007 ranking in order
to compare from one year to the next.
The worldwide rankings are produced from the
most recent Worldwide Quality of Living survey, conducted by Mercer Human
Resource Consulting. Individual reports are produced for each city surveyed, but
please note that there is no overall summary report available. The cost of
comparative quality of living indexes between a base city and a host city is 300
Euros (multiple city comparisons are available).
Further information and copies of the reports
are available from Mercer Client Services, on
+41 22 869 3000.
www.imercer.com/qolpr for more informataion
and to buy survey reports.
Mercer’s study is based on detailed assessments
and evaluations of 39 key quality of living determinants, grouped in the
- Political and social environment (political
stability, crime, law enforcement, etc)
- Economic environment (currency exchange
regulations, banking services, etc)
- Socio-cultural environment (censorship,
limitations on personal freedom, etc)
- Health and sanitation (medical supplies and
services, infectious diseases, sewage, waste disposal, air pollution, etc)
- Schools and education (standard and
availability of international schools, etc)
- Public services and transportation
(electricity, water, public transport, traffic congestion, etc)
- Recreation (restaurants, theatres, cinemas,
sports and leisure, etc)
- Consumer goods (availability of food/daily
consumption items, cars, etc)
- Housing (housing, household appliances,
furniture, maintenance services, etc)
- Natural environment (climate, record of