Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 10/2011

A Summary of the Liveability Ranking: and Overview

August 2011

Economist Intelligence Unit


For the first time in almost a decade of reporting liveability, Vancouver is not at the top of our ranking of 140 cities (Vancouver was in joint first position with Melbourne in the 2002 survey). In the Economist Intelligence Unit’s latest survey for July 2011, a small adjustment in Vancouver’s score for transport infrastructure, reflecting recent intermittent closures of the key Malahat highway, resulted in a 0.7 percentage point decline in the Canadian city’s overall liveability rating. The adjustment is miniscule, and should not be considered significant in the context of the overall score, but it was sufficient to drop Vancouver to third position behind Melbourne and Vienna. Melbourne now replaces Vancouver as the most liveable city in the survey. Vancouver’s overall score could see further downward revisions in future surveys following riots in June this year. Although the riots came too late in the year to have an impact on the score of the current survey, further unrest may affect scores for the city in the future. Overall, however, the general conditions required for a location to be awarded a high liveability ranking continue to be well reflected in Australian and Canadian cities. Some people may argue that violent crime is on an upward trend in the top tier of cities, but we believe that the figures should be put into context. Melbourne and Vancouver recorded murder rates of 2.9 and 2.6 per 100,000 population respectively in 2009. In Vienna, a city of 1.7m people, only 18 murders were reported in 2010 (or about 1.06 per 100,000). These figures compare to a US average of 5.0 homicides per 100,000 people (2009), with New York City reporting a rate of 5.6 in the same year.