This year’s global liveability score has been strongly influenced by measures taken to stem the spread of COVID-19, with cities ranked according to how successfully they dealt with the pandemic. Perhaps unsurprisingly, New Zealand and Australia dominated the top 10.
As expected, the average global liveability score dropped 7 points this year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but some cities still managed to thrive by allowing their residents to live relatively normal lives despite a health crisis, The Economist’s latest Global Liveability Index revealed.
The liveability index usually ranks 140 cities across five areas — stability, healthcare, education, culture and environment, and infrastructure. But this year, the extent to which cities were sheltered by strong border closures, their ability to handle the health crisis and the pace at which they rolled out vaccination campaigns drove significant changes in the rankings.
Data collected from February to March 2021 saw New Zealand and Australia dominate the rankings, comprising six out of the top 10 cities.
Of the four Australian cities on the list, Adelaide ranked the highest in third place, with a liveability score of 94, preceded only by Japan’s Osaka (94.2) and New Zealand’s Auckland (96).
Meanwhile, Perth, Melbourne and Brisbane ranked sixth, eighth and 10th, respectively, while Sydney fell short and missed out on a top 10 placing, ranking in 11th place.
According to the report, the most liveable cities showed the ability to contain the coronavirus pandemic faster and thus lift restrictions earlier.
The top 10 also included NZ’s Wellington in New Zealand, Japan’s Tokyo and two cities in Switzerland — Zurich and Geneva.
In contrast, The Economist found many European and Canadian cities fell short due to their prolonged battle with a second COVID-19 wave.
Australia leads healthcare, education, infrastructure
Given its speedy response to the outbreak of COVID-19, Adelaide, Perth and Brisbane scored a perfect 100 for access to healthcare and quality of care.
As for education, the winning trio were joined by Melbourne, all with a score of 100.
“Elsewhere, however, there are still intermittent school closures in many cities, forcing pupils to rely on online learning,” the report noted.
Australian cities also saw the highest score in infrastructure, with Perth and Melbourne being the only cities on the list to score a perfect 100.
Looking ahead, The Economist said COVID-19 will continue to affect city liveability across the world, even with vaccination campaigns now underway albeit at varying levels of efficiency.
According to the report, the poorest cities are likely to see further deterioration should they fail to secure vaccines soon — thus putting weak healthcare systems under even greater pressure.
“A slower inoculation drive would result in a more strict lockdown, thereby affecting the expected recovery in economic growth. This, in turn, could affect other categories, including stability,” it said.
Ultimately, the recovery of liveability will depend on “how effectively the health risks of the pandemic can be controlled, through a combination of vaccination, testing, tracing and quarantine measures”.