Quality of Living City Rankings 2008

Mercer, a human resource consulting firm based in New York City, released its annual Quality of Living Survey. Mercer’s survey compares 215 cities based on 39 criteria. Some of the criteria include: safety, education, hygiene, recreation, public transportation and political-economic stability.

The survey uses New York as a basis, giving the city a 100 score, then the other cities are rated is comparison.

The Top 10 Cities in Mercer’s Quality of Living Survey are:

Zurich (Switzerland)
Vienna (Austria)
Geneva (Switzerland)
Vancouver (Canada)
Auckland (New Zealand)

In 2008, European countries dominate the list. Cities from other countries such as Canada, Australia and New Zealand also did well.

Sadly not a single US city made it to the top 10 – not even the top 20. The highest spot an American city ever got is top 28 for Honolulu, Hawaii.

The Economist’s Most Livable Cities

The Economist also puts out an annual list of the most livable cities in the world. The Economist Intelligence Unit rates the livability of 140 cities around the world. Cities are ranked based on stability, health care, culture and environment, education, and infrastructure.

The Economist’s Top Most Livable cities in 2008 are:

Vancouver
Melbourne
Vienna
Perth
Toronto

Again, no US cities made it to the top 10 of The Economist’s list of Most Livable Cities. One has to wonder why the US cities fared so poorly in this survey, where as neighboring Canada did exceedingly well. In 2002, American cities fared very well, with Honolulu at number 3 and Minneapolis at number 6.

Some critics, scholars and experts are inclined to blame former president Bush for America’s devolution. Looking at the year when Honolulu was at number three and when it sunk to number 28, it seems to support their theories, since the past six years had been under the Bush administration.

Perhaps, Bush’s decision to back out of the global warming treaty (after claiming that the US would impose carbon dioxide limitations that would conform to the Kyoto Protocol or the global warming treaty) has something to do with America’s decline in livability lists. The media appears to agree on the statistic that though the US only has 4-6 percent of the world’s population, it is responsible for about 25 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas pollution.

Other countries believe that the Bush administration opted for short-term fixes rather than long-term solutions. The US senate at the time also said it would not vote for the proposed treaty because it would cause economic damage to the US. Why then, are other cities in other countries able to do "a rational convergence of ecological, existential and economic interests", as Martin Schönfeld said, a Philosophy professor at the University of South Florida had said?

Whatever the case maybe, it may be too late to blame the government for the decline of US cities in livability polls. Instead, let us do our part in making US cities clean and safe for families again.