Singapore has the world’s best infrastructure, according to a survey of 221 cities by consulting firm Mercer released Tuesday, using measures such as traffic congestion, availability of flights from local airports, quality of public transportation and availability of water.
The Southeast Asian city-state beat its close competitor, Hong Kong, which came in sixth in the world for infrastructure. Ranking second and third were Frankfurt and Munich, respectively, which function as aviation hubs in Europe similar to Singapore’s role in Asia, followed by Copenhagen in Denmark and another German city, Düsseldorf.
On the other end, Dhaka in Bangladesh was deemed to have the poorest infrastructure in Asia, according to Mercer’s survey, coming in at 205, behind Yangon, Myanmar, and Phnom Penh, Cambodia, which also ranked poorly at 180 and 194, respectively. Port-au-Prince in Haiti was placed as the worst in the world for infrastructure.
For the second year in a row, Mercer ranked Singapore as the Asian city with the highest quality of life, followed by four Japanese cities: Tokyo, Kobe, Yokohama and Osaka. World-wide, though, Singapore was ranked 25th, with Vienna taking the top spot. The results take into account everything from the political and social environment of a city to the standard of schools and the availability of a range of consumer goods. Health considerations, including air pollution, come into play as well — a reason why Hong Kong is ranked 70th on Mercer’s list, between Prague in the Czech Republic and Detroit, Michigan.
The consultancy rates the quality of life in 220 cities against New York, which ranks 47th and is home the headquarters of Mercer’s parent company, Marsh & McLennan Cos. Quality of life – broken down into categories like law enforcement, crime, political stability, the availability of consumer goods and the like – is compared city-to-city between New York and other cities across the world.
Cities in Australia and New Zealand ranked as some of the most desirable places to live and work, with Auckland ranked third in the world for quality of life behind Vienna and Zurich. Australian cities Sydney, Melbourne and Perth, as well as Toronto and Berlin, all ranked higher than Singapore for overall quality of life, taking into account climate and the socio-cultural environment, including censorship and social freedom.
In Southeast Asia, cities like Yangon and Jakarta find themselves inching up ever so slightly. Yangon was ranked 195th for quality of life out of 221 cities, and Jakarta ranked 138, compared with 196 and 140 in 2011. Mercer remains optimistic that many of these Asian cities will continue making improvements on infrastructure—aided, of course, by unprecedented foreign investment coming in to the country—and will grow more desirable to expatriates looking for opportunities outside their home countries.
Mercer’s surveys are designed to help multinational firms decide how to compensate their employees when they go on overseas postings. In the case of cities ranked poorly, “companies need to provide adequate allowances to compensate their international workers for these and other hardships,” according to Slagin Parakatil, a senior researcher at Mercer. However, the cost of living in some of the top-ranked cities are among the highest in the world.
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