Top 10 and bottom 10 world's most liveable cities (Source data: EIU's Global Liveability Index)

I’ve reviewed each release of the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Global Liveability Index for the last four years. Nothing has changed at the top in the 2014 survey released yesterday compared to 2013, so here’s a summary of the key points I made last time.

  • It’s a guide to companies on what they should pay their execs while they’re on assignment. It’s therefore not a guide to the best cities to live in permanently and it’s not at all useful for those who aren’t highly remunerated.
  • It doesn’t take account of the cost of living for permanent residents or key issues like job opportunities and housing affordability.
  • It overwhelmingly reflects national characteristics, not the attributes of individual cities.
  • The scores of the top 10 cities are so close the differences are trivial.
  • There’s enormous variability in the quality of the data between countries and the methodology isn’t as transparent as it should be.

Melbourne and Sydney each score 100 on infrastructure and all of the Australian and Canadian cities score 100 in health and education. (1)

As I noted last time, whatever its usefulness for companies sending executives on assignment, the Index has little relevance for permanent residents of a city or for urban policy-makers.

Politicians won’t be able to resist making political capital when they can, but the rest of us should understand it doesn’t mean much.

There’s a lot more in my discussion last year; it includes consideration of an alternative measure that isn’t so kind to Australian cities (see Does Australia really have the world’s most liveable cities?).

Update 21/08/14:  Brisbane’s Courier Mail – Economist Intelligence Unit’s Global Liveability Ranking sees Brisbane come in at number 20, below Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaideand Perth.

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  1. Helsinki only scored 91.7 for education, notwithstanding Finland’s considerable international reputation in school education
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