Hong Kong loses Asia’s third most liveable city to Singapore

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Hong Kong’s overall score unchanged at 88.8, but Singapore’s educational achievements gave the city-state an edge.

(Photo credit: Chris Lusher)

Hong Kong’s overall score remains unchanged for the third year at 88.8% in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s annual liveability rankings, whilst falling two places from 43rd to 45th this year. The slide down in the rankings was mainly due to progress made by other cities.

Meanwhile, Singapore’s overall score increased from 87.8% to 90.4%, jumping 11 places to 35th on the rankings. The leap was mainly attributed to the republic’s educational achievements. This is the first time Singapore surpasses Hong Kong in the index.

The ranking rates 140 cities based on over 30 factors across five broad categories: stability, healthcare, culture, environment, and infrastructure. Each factor in a city is rated as acceptable, tolerable, uncomfortable, undesirable, or intolerable.

Hong Kong’s another major rival Shanghai is ranked 81st in the index, while Shenzhen is ranked 84th.

Asia’s ten most liveable cities:

Global Ranking City
13 Tokyo
14 Osaka
35 Singapore
45 Hong Kong
58 Seoul
60 Taipei
70 Kuala Lumpur
72 Suzhou
73 Beijing



Global overview

Melbourne, Australia is ranked world’s most liveable city seven years in a row, while Austrian capital Vienna seconds, followed by three Canadian cities Vancouver, Toronto, and Calgary, whereas Adelaide ties with Calgary at 5th.

Ranked the 10th least liveable city – understandably due to the civil unrest in Ukraine – Kiev continues to be the only European city on the lowest ten for another year.

The ongoing war in Syria has caused Damascus to score the lowest overall, ranking the bottom of 140 cities.

Low population density a liveable indicator

According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, population density remarkably affects liveability in urban centres, as infrastructures of megacities tend to be overstretched.

“Those that score best tend to be mid-sized cities in wealthier countries with a relatively low population density. These can foster a range of recreational activities without leading to high crime levels or overburdened infrastructure,” the report reads.

With that being said, as the think tank points out, some of the densely overpopulated megacities still fare better than the worst-scoring cities plagued by unrest and sometimes war.

“The question is how much wages, the cost of living and personal taste for a location can offset liveability factors. Although global centres fare less well in the ranking than mid-sized cities, for example, they still sit within the highest tier of liveability and should therefore be considered broadly comparable, especially when contrasted with the worst-scoring locations,” The Economist states.

Global instability top concern

The Economist Intelligence Unit cites the rise of terrorism in urban centres as top concern for liveability.

“The ongoing weakening of global stability scores has been made uncomfortably apparent by anumber of high-profile incidents that have shown no signs of slowing in recent years. Violent acts of terrorism have been reported in many countries. […] While not a new phenomenon, the frequency and spread of terrorism have increased noticeably and become even more prominent,” the report reads.

The think tank also notes broiling tension in Asia, suggesting that “concerns over geopolitical stability are growing in Asia owing to potential flashpoints involving a number of countries, including China and North Korea.”

In general, the world saw a decline in stability, which resulted in a fall in overall liveability score. Over the past five years, the global liveability score has dropped by 0.8% to 74.8%.