Surveys, What Are They Good For?

Mercer Human Resource Consulting, the world's largest consulting firm, released their Overall Quality of Life Survey on Monday. Based on almost forty criteria that include political, social, economic and environmental factors, personal safety and health, education, transport and recreation, Zurich, Switzerland is ranked first and Baghdad, Iraq is ranked last.

Here's the top 10 (last year's rank in parentheses; and FYI: the ties arise from the point system used in the the ratings):

1. Zurich, Switzerland (1)
2. Geneva, Switzerland (2)
3. Vancouver, Canada (2)
3. Vienna, Austria (2)
5. Auckland, New Zealand (5)
5. Bern, Switzerland (5)
5. Copenhagen, Denmark (5)
5. Sydney, Australia (5)
10. Amsterdam, The Netherlands (10)
10. Munich, Germany (10)

The absence of U.S. cities at the top of the list is attributed mainly to the tighter restrictions for entry into the country, an important factor since the list is compiled to help companies and governments place employees on international assignments. The highest U.S. cities are San Francisco and Honolulu (tied at 24th) with the lowest being Atlanta, ranked 66th. In between are New York City at 38th (with 100 points, the base index), Boston and Portland at 41st and Chicago at 49th, among others.

Here's the bottom 10:

206. Luanda, Angola (206)
207. Ndjamaena, Chad (208)
207. Nouakchott, Mauritania (206)
207. Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso (210)
207. Sanaa, Arabic Republic of Yemen (208)
211. Khartoum, Sudan (211)
211. Pointe Noire, Congo (212)
213. Brazzaville, Congo (215)
214. Bangui, Central African Republic (214)
215. Baghdad, Iraq (213)

It is obvious that recent events account for Baghdad's location at the bottom, and inadequate health and sanitation resources, and political and economic unrest on the African continent contribute to many of these cities locations on the list.

Although this list won't change the world, it points up the unsettling difference between wealthy and developing nations in terms of quality of life, something that irks me but is an unfortunate fact in today's world.