- Luxembourg scores highest for personal safety and security; Baghdad scores lowest
- Canadian cities top the rankings for safety and security in North America
- For overall quality of life, Geneva, and Zurich rank top; Baghdad scores lowest
Luxembourg ranks as the world’s top city for personal safety and security, according to a quality of life survey by Mercer Human Resource Consulting. The city scores 122.5 followed by Helsinki, Bern, Geneva, and Zurich which take joint second place with scores of 120.
Scores for personal safety and security are based on relationships with other countries, internal stability, and crime, including terrorism. Law enforcement, censorship, and limitations on personal freedom are also taken into account. (See Notes below for details.)
Cities are ranked against New York as the base city, which has a rating of 100. The analysis is part of a worldwide quality of life survey, covering 215 cities, to help governments and major companies to place employees on international assignments.
The Japanese cities of Omuta, Kastuyama, Tsukuba, and Yokkaichi score highest in Asia (joint 14th place with scores of 112.5), while Calgary, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, and Vancouver rank top in North America, in joint 18th place (score 112).
“The top-ranking cities for personal safety and security are in politically stable countries with good international relations and sustainable economic growth,” said Slagin Parakatil, Senior Researcher at Mercer. “Most of the low-scoring cities are in countries with civil unrest, little law enforcement, and high levels of crime.”
The world’s least secure city is Baghdad (Iraq), with a score of 5 due to ongoing civil unrest and threats of attack in the city. Other low-ranking cities include Abidjan in the Ivory Coast, Bangui in Central African Republic, and Port Harcourt and Lagos in Nigeria , which score 24, 26.5, 32.5, and 32.5 respectively. These countries continue to experience political turmoil and low economic growth.
Many Western European cities appear at the top of the rankings. Luxembourg scores highest for personal safety and security, followed by Swiss and Scandinavian cities. Other high-scoring cities include Vienna, ranked 6th with a score of 116, followed by Düsseldorf, Munich, Nürnberg, Frankfurt, and Oslo, sharing 8th place with scores of 113.
In contrast, Athens, Rome, and London appear at the lower end of the rankings for this region, at positions 83, 74, and 69 respectively (score 93.5, 95.5, and 99), due to high levels of petty crime. Madrid also scores relatively low, sharing 69th position with London, due to terrorism.
Cities in Eastern European cities generally rank lower than those in Western Europe. Ljubljana in Slovenia scores highest for personal safety and security, at position 41 with a rating of 105, followed by Bratislava in Slovakia and Prague in the Czech Republic in joint 58th place scoring 100.
“Some Eastern European cities have gained higher scores in the rankings due to their accession to the European Union,” said Mr Parakatil. “There are noticeable differences in personal safety and security scores between many Eastern and Central European cities.”
Russian cities score poorly due to high crime rates, economic turmoil, and lack of internal stability. Moscow, Novosibirsk, Kazan, and St Petersburg take positions 198, 179, 179, and 175 respectively, with scores of 41.5, 52.5, 52.5, and 53.5.
All of the Canadian cities covered by the survey appear in the top 20 rankings for personal safety and security. Calgary, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, and Vancouver rank jointly in position 18 with scores of 112.
In the US, Honolulu, Houston, Lexington, San Francisco, and Winston Salem rank highest in joint 45th position with scores of 104. Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, Portland, and New York all follow in 58th place with scores of 100. The lowest scoring city in North America is Atlanta, ranked 90 with a score of 90.5, due to street crime and burglary.
In Mexico, Monterrey and Mexico City rank 87 and 126, scoring 92 and 72.5 respectively.
Cities in South America tend to feature much lower in the rankings than those in North America. Growing unemployment and political instability in these regions have led to high crime levels.
Santiago in Chile ranks highest in 94th place with a score of 90. Buenos Aires in Argentina ranks 115 with a score of 77.5, while São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro in Brazil take 148th and 167th position respectively, with scores of 63.5 and 56. Bogotá and Medellin in Colombia and Caracas in Venezuela rank lowest in positions 210, 205, and 193 respectively (score 33, 37.5, and 48) due to crime including kidnappings.
Mr Parakatil concluded: “As globalisation increases, security and relationships with other countries become more critical to overall quality of life standards in cities across the world.”
Rankings for overall quality of life
Mercer’s overall quality of life survey has revealed that Geneva and Zurich remain the world’s top-scoring cities with 106.5 points. Other high-scoring cities include Vancouver and Vienna in joint 3rd place (score 106).
Cities in Europe, New Zealand, and Australia continue to rank highly. Munich and Düsseldorf both move up the rankings, from 10th and 12th place respectively, to share joint 5th place with Frankfurt. Munich’s rise is due to more efficient waste removal systems and better housing for expatriates, while Düsseldorf’s transport and standards of international schooling have improved. Bern, Copenhagen, and Sydney are pushed down slightly to rank 8 with scores of 105.
In the US, Honolulu and San Francisco rank highest in joint 25th position (score 102), mainly because they have lower crime levels than other US cities. Boston, New York, Portland, and Washington follow in positions 36, 39, 42, and 42 respectively (score 100.5, 100, 99, 99), while Houston ranks lowest at position 68 (score 94).
The analysis was based on an evaluation of 39 quality of life criteria for each city, including political, social, economic, and environmental factors, personal safety and health, education, transport, and other public services.
Baghdad remains the world’s least attractive city for expatriates. Its low score (14.5) is due to the recurrent threat of attacks against people, multinational organisations, and government institutions in the area. Other poor-scoring cities for overall quality of life include Bangui in the Central African Republic (score 29), Brazzaville in Congo, and Khartoum in Sudan (29.5 and 31 respectively).
Notes: Data was largely collected between September and November 2004 and is regularly updated to take account of changing circumstances. In particular, the assessments will be revised in the case of any new developments.
The worldwide rankings are produced from the most recent worldwide quality of life survey, conducted by Mercer Human Resource Consulting. Individual reports are produced for each city surveyed, but please note that there is no overall summary report available. The cost of comparative quality of life indexes between a base city and a host city is 250 euros (multiple city comparisons are available). Further information and copies of the reports are available from Client Services, Mercer Global Information Services, on +41 22 869 3000.
The overall quality of life ranking is based on an evaluation of 39 quality of life criteria. The covered topic in 2005, “personal safety and security,” is based on an evaluation of six criteria that have been drawn from the overall quality of life survey. New York has been used as the base score for quality of life with a score of 100 points.
Mercer’s study is based on detailed assessments and evaluations of 39 key quality of life determinants, grouped in the following categories:
- Political and social environment (political stability, crime, law enforcement, etc)
- Economic environment (currency exchange regulations, banking services, etc)
- Socio-cultural environment (censorship, limitations on personal freedom, etc)
- Medical and health considerations (medical supplies and services, infectious diseases, sewage, waste disposal, air pollution, etc)
- Schools and education (standard and availability of schools, etc)
- Public services and transportation (electricity, water, public transport, traffic congestion, etc)
- Recreation (restaurants, theatres, cinemas, sports and leisure, etc)
- Consumer goods (availability of food/daily consumption items, cars, etc)
- Housing (housing, household appliances, furniture, maintenance services, etc)
- Natural environment (climate, record of natural disasters)