Here are some general observations on the indicators the Economist has made to rank world cities for livability.
Stability includes crime and war, however, stable government is not given as a desirable indicator for good living: an enormous oversight. Stability is defined in negative terms; government and social services and education are preventive contributors to stability, which are either missing or ranked too low (education is weighted at only 10%.)
Another seemingly large oversight is business. The ease and cost of doing business, and access to jobs, is an important livability indicator. Part of this should be the relative sizes of business – ie. corporations that are too large destroy the ability of other business to flourish thereby impairing livability.
And finally, a third oversight is food quality and availability.
The term ‘availability’ needs to be defined and needs to include affordability. Livability cuts across all classes. Additionally indicators that are ranked for quality should also be ranked for availability and affordability, particularly the indicators in the infrastructure category.
I find it hard to believe that two Canadian cities – including one on the west coast ranked as high as they did. I lived in two of the top cities on the Economist’s list: Vancouver and Toronto and don’t find that they are easy cities to be in unless you have car. So, it would make sense to weight the indicators away from car based development and toward pedestrian based development if the intent is true livability.
Energy is another consideration for livability indicators. It’s easy to be a pig and be happy. But people who consume less energy per capita and still make for themselves wonderful places to live should rank higher. This new indicator would knock off all North American and Australian cities.
Here are the Economist magazine’s indicators:
Category 1: Stability (weight: 25% of total)
Prevalence of petty crime
Prevalence of violent crime
Threat of terror
Threat of military conflict
Threat of civil unrest/conflict
Category 2: Healthcare (weight: 20% of total)
Availability of private healthcare
Quality of private healthcare
Availability of public healthcare
Quality of public healthcare
Availability of over-the-counter drugs
General healthcare indicators
Category 3: Culture & Environment (weight: 25% of total)
Discomfort of climate to travellers
Level of corruption
Social or religious restrictions
Level of censorship
Food and drink
Consumer goods and services
Category 4: Education (weight: 10% of total)
Availability of private education
Quality of private education
Public education indicators
Category 5: Infrastructure (weight: 20% of total)
Quality of road network
Quality of public transport
Quality of international links
Availability of good quality housing
Quality of energy provision
Quality of water provision
Quality of telecommunications
A Summary of the Liveability Ranking and Overview, February 2011, Economist Intelligence Unit
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