The quest for quality of life may one day dethrone cities like New York and London

New York and London are still the most global cities of the world followed by Paris and Tokyo according to A.T Kearney’s biennial ranking. With technology making the location a less important indicator in ranking cities, quality of life plays a major role in determining city’s global prominence. The quest for quality of life may one day dethrone these cities. Vienna which is ranked 13th in Kearney’s survey has been ranked first in Mercer’s quality of living survey. There are major differences in the points of view of these two surveys.

Kearney’s survey takes into account the business activity, human capital, information exchange and political engagement of the cities as indicators of global prominence. These indicators are usually characteristic of big cities so the dominance of metropolises is natural in this survey. This suggests that the top cities like NY and London will not be dethroned at least for a decade or two. However the survey reckons emerging cities like Shanghai and Beijing could reach the top of the list in the future. In such cities, rising wealth, expanding infrastructure and improving business conditions may well outweigh the negatives like pollution and the political environment.

Mercer’s report on the other hand gives a very different perspective of the future, where a good lifestyle does not ensure global prominence. None of Mercer’s top cities appears in Kearney’s top 10 and the most global centers are far from livable. Presumably, the wealthy and the decision makers value lifestyle. Global communications and advanced technology have made it possible to do business remotely and a logical extension of that would be that cities with a high quality of life would move up the rankings of global influence in the course of time. Though certain factors work on the contrary, the largest cities are well connected and the very rich can overcome the cost advantages which deter the merely affluent.

Austria, the city of music, is not likely to eclipse New York, the city that never sleeps, for global prominence. However, it is very likely that Shanghai and Beijing neither known for lifestyle might face an unexpected competition from cities like Auckland and Vancouver.

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