Hong Kong is now more livable than Singapore

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The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) just released their most current Global Livability Index, and the verdict for the two rival cities is this: very good news for Hong Kong, a little bit of bad news for Singapore.

The EIU ranks 140 cities according to healthcare, infrastructure, culture and environment, stability, and education to determine livability ranking.

In 2017, Singapore took the lead over Hong Kong for the first time, coming in at 35th in a worldwide scale of livability among cities all over the world, while Hong Kong ranked 45th. This was due to Singapore’s improved marks in the area of education.

However, for this year, Hong Kong is now at 35th place, with Singapore slipping two notches to 37th. Hong Kong’s improved rank is widely attributed to decreased levels of social unrest in then four years since the Occupy movement’s protests.

Hong Kong is not out of the woods, however. Greater degrees of political censorship looms over the city, what with China’s firm stand against independence. This means that the future of freedom of speech in Hong Kong is in question.

Simon Baptist of the EIU believes that while there is censorship in both Hong Kong and Singapore, he expect that Hong Kong will eventually have the bigger problem. “Censorship in Singapore has more of an effect on everyday life than it does in Hong Kong. The trend in both places is increasing censorship, although in the long run I would expect censorship to get stronger in Hong Kong.”

Mr. Baptist said that Hong Kong’s future cannot be separated from that of China and that, more and more, Hong Kong would function to supply services for the mainland. “The [regional role] of Hong Kong will become smaller, and Singapore is [becoming the choice of Asia-Pacific headquarters for multinational companies] because of its quality of life.”

Here are the top ten cities in terms of livability, as ranked by the EIU:

  1. Vienna
  2. Melbourne
  3. Osaka
  4. Calgary
  5. Sydney
  6. Vancouver
  7. Toronto
  8. Tokyo
  9. Copenhagen
  10. Adelaide

Melbourne had held the number one rank for seven years, but was unseated by Vienna, whose improved security situation helped it get the top spot. The only Asian cities in the top ten are both located in Japan—Osaka and Tokyo, due to consistently good performances in the areas of public transportation and declining rates of crime.

Among South East Asian cities, Singapore ranks the highest. Kuala Lumpur is ranked at 78th, and Bangkok takes the 98th spot.  Singapore showed an improvement in the category of public healthcare, garnering a perfect score of 100. The country’s score for housing supply also went up. Hong Kong, on the other hand, showed improved marks in environmental and cultural issues.

Around the world, livability has improved for the second year in a row, and is now at 75.7 percent, compared to last year’s 74.8 percent.

At the bottom of the list is Damascus, the capital of Syria, a city ravaged by war. Damascus got very low scores, particularly in the areas of healthcare, stability and education.