Global Liveability Declines as Unrest and Terror Attacks Mount

  • EIU Liveability Report 2015Top locations are unchanged in our Global Liveability Ranking but terror and unrest have prompted declines in over 20% of cities surveyed in the last 12 months.
  • The average global stability score has fallen by 2.2% over the last five years.
  • Melbourne remains top, while war-torn Damascus remains the least liveable city surveyed.

Although it’s usually the top cities that warrant the most attention, the latest findings of The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Global Liveability Ranking reflect a marked increase in global instability over the last 12 months.

The ranking, which provides scores for lifestyle challenges in 140 cities worldwide, shows that since 2010 average liveability across the world has fallen by 1%, led by a 2.2% fall in the score for stability and safety. While this may seem marginal, it highlights that 57 of the cities surveyed have seen declines in liveability over the last five years. Incidences of terrorist shootings in France and Tunisia have been compounded by civil unrest in the US and ongoing conflicts in Syria, Ukraine and Libya.

Jon Copestake, editor of the survey, comments, “The threat to personal safety, whether in the form of crime, unrest or conflict has knock on implications for other aspects of liveability. Last year, events in Ukraine and the Middle East formed a sobering backdrop to global liveability, but in the last 12 months this has been compounded by protests in the US, sanctions in Russia and shootings in France and Tunisia.”

Melbourne tops the ranking for the fifth year running, followed by Vienna and Vancouver. Further down the ranking, however, changes have been much more noticeable. US cities in particular have seen declines based on spikes in crime and widespread protests following the deaths of a number of black Americans in police custody. Protests were also at the heart of a decline in liveability in Hong Kong over the last 12 months.

Meanwhile, a number of incidents in France, including the January attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo have affected the scores of Paris. Tunis, the Tunisian capital, has also seen declines, as has Tripoli in neighboring Libya, which has collapsed into civil war.

In Athens…it is the impact of austerity rather than unrest that has weighed on the provision of public services. Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, saw the sharpest fall over the last 12 months and is now among the ten least liveable cities ranked, while the fallout of the conflict in Eastern Ukraine is also being felt in Russia as a result of ongoing sanctions and boycotts from international artists.

Although good news stories are more difficult to spot, seven cities did buck the trend by registering improvements in scores in the last 12 months. Chinese cities in particular saw improvements after a period of stability following unrest in 2012.

A summary of the full report can be downloaded at


Ten of the best-the most improved liveability scores over five years
City Country Rank (out of 140) Overall Rating (100=ideal) five year score movement
Harare Zimbabwe 133 42.6 5.1
Kathmandu Nepal 124 51 3.9
Dubai UAE 75 74.7 3.4
Warsaw Poland 64 80.7 2.5
Kuwait City Kuwait 83 72.1 2.5
Honolulu US 19 94.1 2.0
Beijing China 69 76.2 1.9
Bratislava Slovakia 63 81.5 1.7
Baku Azerbaijan 103 62.3 1.6
Nairobi Kenya 120 53.1 1.5


Ten of the worst-the biggest falls in liveability scores over five years
City Country Rank (out of 140) Overall Rating (100=ideal) five year score movement
Damascus Syria 140 140 -27
Kiev Ukraine 132 132 -25.8
Tripoli Libya 136 136 -21.9
Tunis Tunisia 108 108 -6.6
Athens Greece 72 72 -5.9
Detroit US 57 57 -5.7
Moscow Russia 81 81 -5.6
Cairo Egypt 121 121 -4.9
Bahrain Bahrain 92 92 -4.6
St Petersburg Russia 77 77 -4.4


The five most liveable
Country City Rank (out of 140) Overall Rating (100=ideal)
Australia Melbourne 1 97.5
Austria Vienna 2 97.4
Canada Vancouver 3 97.3
Canada Toronto 4 97.2
Australia Adelaide 5 96.6
Canada Calgary 5 96.6


The five least liveable
Country City Rank (out of 140) Overall Rating (100=ideal)
Libya Tripoli 136 40
Nigeria Lagos 137 39.7
PNG Port Moresby 138 38.9
Bangladesh Dhaka 139 38.7
Syria Damascus 140 29.3

About The Economist Intelligence UnitThe Economist Intelligence Unit (The EIU) is the world’s leading resource for economic and business research, forecasting and analysis. It provides accurate and impartial intelligence for companies, government agencies, financial institutions and academic organisations around the globe, inspiring business leaders to act with confidence since 1946. EIU products include its flagship Country Reports service, providing political and economic analysis for 195 countries, and a portfolio of subscription-based data and forecasting services. The company also undertakes bespoke research and analysis projects on individual markets and business sectors. More information is available at

The EIU is headquartered in London, UK, with offices in more than 40 cities and a network of some 650 country experts and analysts worldwide. It operates independently as the business-to-business arm of The Economist Group, the leading source of analysis on international business and world affairs.

About the Liveability survey

The concept of liveability is simple: it assesses which locations around the world provide the best or the worst living conditions. Assessing liveability has a broad range of uses, from benchmarking perceptions of development levels to assigning a hardship allowance as part of expatriate relocation packages.

The Economist Intelligence Unit’s liveability rating, part of the Worldwide Cost of Living Survey, quantifies the challenges that might be presented to an individual’s lifestyle in 140 cities worldwide. Each city is assigned a score for over 30 qualitative and quantitative factors across five broad categories of Stability, Healthcare, Culture and environment, Education and Infrastructure

Each factor in each city is rated as acceptable, tolerable, uncomfortable, undesirable or intolerable. For qualitative indicators, a rating is awarded based on the judgment of in–house analysts and in–city contributors. For quantitative indicators, a rating is calculated based on the relative performance of a number of external data points. The categories are compiled and weighted to provide an overall rating of 1–100, where 1 is considered intolerable and 100 is considered ideal. The report considers that any city with a rating of 80 or more will have few, if any, challenges to living standards.

Liveability scores can be scaled as follows:

The suggested liveability scale

Rating Description
80–100 There are few, if any, challenges to living standards
70–80 Day–to–day living is fine, in general, but some aspects of life may entail problems
60–70 Negative factors have an impact on day-to-day living
50–60 Liveability is substantially constrained
50 or less Most aspects of living are severely restricted

The survey gives an overall rating of 0-100, where 1 is intolerable and 100 is ideal.

Source EIU