As the world continues to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic, the metropolitan city of Auckland in New Zealand has been named the most livable city globally by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).
That’s largely due to the country’s successful handling of Covid-19 which allowed schools, theaters, restaurants and other cultural attractions to remain open during the survey period from Feb. 22 to March 21, 2021, according to the EIU.
New Zealand implemented a strict nationwide lockdown for several weeks last year to slow the spread of the virus. It also shut its international borders to most travelers.
Asia-Pacific cities dominated the top 10 rankings this year, even as the pandemic caused overall livability around the world to decline.
The top 10 most livable cities in the world, and their scores according to The Global Liveability Index 2021, are:
- Auckland, New Zealand (96.0)
- Osaka, Japan (94.2)
- Adelaide, Australia (94.0)
- Wellington, New Zealand (93.7)
- Tokyo, Japan (93.7)
- Perth, Australia (93.3)
- Zurich, Switzerland (92.8)
- Geneva, Switzerland (92.5)
- Melbourne, Australia (92.5)
- Brisbane, Australia (92.4)
The livability index ranks cities based on more than 30 qualitative and quantitative factors across five broad categories: stability, health care, culture and environment, education and infrastructure.
Due to the pandemic, the EIU added new indicators such as stress on health-care resources as well as restrictions around local sporting events, theatres, music concerts, restaurants and schools.
Healthcare conditions worsened markedly in Prague and Athens, as during that period COVID-19 cases were on the rise and it was increasingly difficult to find a hospital bed and access to quality healthcare.
The biggest drops in the ranking of cities from 140 countries are in Germany. These are Hamburg, Frankfurt and Dusseldorf as they fell to 47th, 39th, and 50th place respectively.
It is not all bad news though. Barcelona and Madrid gained 25 points for healthcare because their healthcare system coped better with the pressure compared to the previous wave of Covid-19.
‘Big shake-up’ in rankings
The impact of Covid-19 has been fairly obvious in the rankings, according to Simon Baptist, global chief economist at the EIU.
“There’s been quite a big shake-up in terms of, certainly the top 10, but also right throughout the ranking, based upon the Covid-19 situation,” he told CNBC.
Cities that were in lockdown or were experiencing a surge in cases during the survey period saw their scores reduced on several criteria, which led to many European cities falling down the ranks, Baptist explained.
That includes Vienna, which consistently ranked near the top over the last several years. This year, however, it failed to break into the top 10 and came in 12th position.