After COVID-19, Vienna is back as the world’s most liveable city
Europe is on the rebound in terms of livability, but the Russian invasion is the prime suspect behind the dropping quality of life around the world
After last year’s back and forth dance with pandemic restrictions, Vienna has returned to the top as the most liveable city in the world, according to The Economist’s annual Liveability Index. Although in 2021, there were no EU cities in the top 10, this year their overall scores have rebounded and now there are four of them – Vienna, Copenhagen, Frankfurt and Amsterdam.
In 2021, the survey was conducted during the rise of the Delta variant, between February and March, when much of the western world was under strict restrictions for cultural and educational institutions, along with an overload on the healthcare system.
This was a time before a meaningful and mass vaccine roll-out, which put all surveyed EU cities outside of the top 10. The Austrian capital for instance, which held the title from 2018 to 2020, slipped back to 12th place.
However, this year, the survey was made during a time when many governments were removing restrictions. This move improved many liveability indicators like healthcare, education and access to culture. According to The Economist, these three have seen the biggest changes since 2021.
A new threat to global liveability – the war in Ukraine
In 2021, COVID-19 was the main driver behind the liveability index. Last year, the world’s overall score fell to 69.1, this year it rebounded to 73.6. However, the score has yet to return to its pre-pandemic levels of 75.9 in 2019.
Despite the comeback, the world was rocked by another major event that promises to shift liveability standards – the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The Economist’s report details that it had dropped Kyiv from its rankings this year, as the war began in the middle of its survey process. At the same time, Western sanctions have caused a significant shift in the quality of life in Russia’s Moscow and St Petersburg.
With the war likely to drag on until the end of 2022 at the least, most of the effects of the damage to political stability, services and etc, are likely to show up in next year’s survey. At the same time, with the current bottleneck of Russian energy and Ukrainian food exports – global liveability is most likely to drop and bring other conflicts, according to experts.
Furthermore, the war has also caused a domino destabilisation effect in Eastern Europe, with many cities like Warsaw and Budapest seeing a slip in their stability ranking due to increased diplomatic tensions.
Western Europe is back
The most significant shift in the liveability index is the fact that European and Canadian cities have climbed back up, as opposed to last year, when the ranking was dominated by New Zealand and Australia.
In fact, Auckland and Wellington, New Zealand and Adelaide, Australia, are some of the cities that have seen the biggest move down the index. Auckland, for instance, was ranked first last year and in 2022 it ranked 34th. Wellington was fourth and now it is in 50th place. Adelaide went from third to 30th.
Here is a full list of the top liveable cities in the world:
- Vienna, Austria (99.1);
- Copenhagen, Denmark (98.0);
- Zurich, Switzerland (96.3);
- Calgary, Canada (96.3);
- Vancouver, Canada (96.1);
- Geneva, Switzerland (95.9);
- Frankfurt, Germany (95.7);
- Toronto, Canada (95.4);
- Amsterdam, Netherlands (95.3)
- Osaka, Japan (95.1);
- Melbourne, Australia (95.1).