This week’s featured Urbanization report is a a critique of the Economists’ Most Liveable Cities Report by This Big City. Although the Economist Intelligence Unit clearly states that this ranking is intended for expats thinking of where to relocate, This Big City points out that they may want to use a lesser loaded word than “liveable” to compare cities. Also even though density is not a direct indicator used to score the cities, it is also interesting to see that the Economist found the highest rated cities to have very low densities.
The Economist: Liveablity Ranking “Cities that score best tend to be mid-sized cities in wealthier countries with a relatively low population density. This often fosters a broad range of recreational availability without leading to high crime levels or overburdened infrastructure. Seven of the top ten scoring cities are in Australia and Canada, where population densities of 2.88 and 3.40 people per sq km respectively compare with a global (land) average of 45.65 and a US average of 32.”
This Big City: A Critique of the Economists’ Most Liveable Cities Report “The choice of indicators seems ambitiously comprehensive and fair. The top-ten chart is populated by, perhaps unsurprisingly, cities of Canada, Northern Europe, and Australasia. However, as far as ‘liveability’ is concerned, how the cities are ranked exposes a systemic bias… One salient instance is ‘humidity/temperature’ which is rated as acceptable, tolerable, uncomfortable, undesirable, or intolerable. This indicator almost naturally rules out Brasilia, Kuala Lumpur, and other tropical cities as remotely ‘tolerable’, much less questioning how one can assess without bias an in-group’s inclination towards certain weather types.
Rio Residents say Olympic Projects violating rights “nearly 300 families already have been removed from their homes because of the construction of two bus systems that will run across the city and are expected to improve Rio’s clogged traffic during the Olympics and the 2014 World Cup…nearly 300 families already have been removed from their homes because of the construction of two bus systems that will run across the city and are expected to improve Rio’s clogged traffic during the Olympics and the 2014 World Cup.
China’s New Urban Plan – Buy a Car, Don’t Use It! “…cities here are trying hard to pry drivers out of their shiny new cars and lure them into mass transit. By 2015, on average, 1 out of 3 commuters should travel by mass transmit in big cities, up from 1 out of 5 now, according to China’s Ministry of Transportation’s proposed development plan…Already, Beijing’s emergency medical centers have begun sending paramedics by motorcycles, instead of ambulances, to maneuver through stalled traffic.”
A Leg Up: The World’s Largest Cities are Failing in their historic role of providing opportunities for upward mobility “A recent World Bank report argued that large urban concentrations—the denser, the better—are the most prodigious creators of opportunity and wealth… A closer look, however, suggests a more nuanced reality. Cities in the developing world are growing, but largely because they’re the only alternative to poverty and even starvation in the countryside. These cities are not only failing to provide opportunities for upward mobility; they’re producing the class inequalities found in “luxury cities” such as London and New York.”
India’s Huge Census: A national head count should show dramatic changes “The survey will also give details of how a decade of rapid economic growth has changed the daily life of ordinary Indians, especially among the fast-growing middle class. Questions will produce hard data to show rapid migration of rural dwellers to the towns. Consumption habits are also changing. The previous head count revealed that at the start of the century fewer than half of India’s households owned a bicycle, television or toilet. Under a tenth of households had a phone, and a mere 2.5% owned a car.”