Study finds Manila living conditions not improving

05/28/10 - With a few dozen fatalities on New Year's eve already considered a peaceful holiday, Metro Manila is not expected to be high on anyone's list of livable cities.

Of 221 cities sampled in its 2010 Worldwide Quality of Living Survey released Wednesday, business solutions firm Mercer said Manila placed 128th out of 221 cities where foreigners live. The Philippine capital garnered a score of 69.9 from 70.9 in the 2009 survey.

But Manila was still ahead of neighboring capitals Jakarta and Hanoi.

The 221 cities were ranked against New York as the base city with an index score of 100.

Key cities of Southeast Asia "saw little change in quality of living index scores this year," Mercer said. "But some cities, including Manila, continue to be affected by low levels of internal stability, traffic congestion, and air pollution."

Manila failed to significantly improve its living conditions among the 221 cities, the Mercer study – conducted from September to November last year – found.

Neighboring Singapore ranked 28th in the survey, because of its growing importance as a financial hub and wider range of international schools and housing for expatriates.

While Hong Kong slid by a notch to 71st, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok climbed to 74th and 118th, respectively.

Still, Manila stayed ahead of neighbors Jakarta, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh, and Phnom Penh.

Vienna, Zurich, Geneva, Vancouver and Auckland made it to the top slots, but Mercer named Baghdad, Bangui, N'Djamena, Khartoum and Tbilisi as the worst cities to live in.

"As the world economy becomes more globalized, cities in many emerging markets, such as the Middle East or Asia, have seen a significant influx of foreign companies and their expatriate employees in recent years," Mercer said in the notes to the survey.

"Despite the economic downturn and companies' efforts to contain costs, quality of living and hardship premiums remain important means of compensating expatriates for differences in living conditions," said Slagin Parakatil, Marcer’s senior researcher.

Mercer also released a list that ranked cities with the best ecological resources in living standards based on water availability and drinkability, waste removal, quality of sewage systems, air pollution, and traffic congestion.

In the ranking of 221, Manila placed 172nd on a score of 62.8. There was no comparative index for 2009.

On top of the list were Calgary, Honolulu, Ottawa, Helsinki and Wellington. At the bottom were Port-au-Prince, Dhaka, Baku, Kolkata and Antananarivo.

New York-based Mercer creates the quality of living index — measured in terms of political stability, economic conditions, socio-cultural environment, health and sanitation, education, transportation, recreation, consumer goods, housing and climate — to help governments and multinational companies compensate employees fairly when placing them on international assignments. ― GMANews.TV

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