Ranked: The Most and Least Livable Cities in 2022
Pandemic restrictions changed the livability of many urban centers worldwide as cultural sites were shuttered, restaurant dining was restricted, and local economies faced the consequences. But as cities worldwide return to the status quo, many of these urban centers have become desirable places to live yet again.
This map uses annual rankings from the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) to show the world’s most livable cities, measuring different categories including: stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education, and infrastructure.
A Quick Note on Methodology
The ranking attempts to assess which cities across the globe provide the best living conditions, by assigning a score on 30 quantitative and qualitative measures across the five categories with the following weightings:
- Healthcare (20%)
- Culture & Environment (25%)
- Stability (25%)
- Education (10%)
- Infrastructure (20%)
Of the 30 factors within these categories, the qualitative ones are assigned as acceptable, tolerable, uncomfortable, undesirable, or intolerable by a team of expert analysts. Quantitative measures are given a score based on a number of external data points. Everything is then weighted to provide a score between 1-100, with 100 being the ideal.
Ranked: The 10 Most Livable Cities
Of the 172 cities included in the rankings, many of the most livable cities can be found in Europe. However, three of the top 10 are located in Canada: Vancouver, Calgary, and Toronto.
Vienna has been ranked number one many times, most recently in 2019. According to the EIU, the Austrian capital only fell out of the top slot during the pandemic years because its famous museums and restaurants were shuttered.
Only one Asian city, Osaka, makes the top 10 list, tying with Melbourne for 10th place. Notably, not a single U.S. city is found in the top ranks.
Editor’s note: Two cities tie for both the #3 and #10 ranks, meaning that the “top 10” list actually includes 12 cities.
Ranked: The 10 Least Livable Cities
Some of the least livable cities in the world are located across Africa and Central Asia.
|#167||Port Moresby||🇵🇬 Papua New Guinea||38.8|
Many of the least livable cities are within conflict zones, contributing to the low ratings. However, these regions are also home to some of the world’s fastest growing cities, presenting many opportunities for ambitious residents.
The Biggest Changes in Ranking
Let’s take a look at the cities that moved up the global rankings most dramatically compared to last year’s data.
Moving Up: The 10 Most Improved Cities
|City||Country||Overall Rank||Rank Change|
|Los Angeles||🇺🇸 US||#37||+18|
Here’s a look at the cities that fell the most in the rankings since last year’s report.
Moving Down: The 10 Cities That Tumbled
|City||Country||Overall Rank||Rank Change|
|Wellington||🇳🇿 New Zealand||#50||-46|
|Auckland||🇳🇿 New Zealand||#34||-33|
According to the report, a number of cities in New Zealand and Australia temporarily dropped in the ranking due to COVID-19 restrictions.
It’s also worth noting that some Eastern European cities moved down in the rankings because of their close proximity to the war in Ukraine. Finally, Kyiv was not included in this year’s report because of the conflict.
Urbanization and Livability
As of 2021, around 57% of the world’s population lives in urban centers and projections show that people worldwide will continue to move into cities.
While there are more amenities in urban areas, the pandemic revealed many issues with urbanization and the concentration of large populations. The stress on healthcare systems is felt most intensely in cities and restrictions on public outings are some of the first measures to be introduced in the face of a global health crisis.
Now with the cost of living rising, cities may face pressures on their quality of life, and governments may be forced to cut spending on public services. Regardless, people worldwide continue to see the benefits of city living—it’s projected that over two-thirds of the global population will live in cities by 2050.
Where Will the World’s Next 1,000 Babies Be Born?
This graphic paints a picture of the world’s population, showing which countries are most likely to welcome the next 1,000 babies.
Where Will the World’s Next 1,000 Babies Be Born?
View a higher resolution version of this map.
Every four minutes, approximately 1,000 babies are born across the globe. But in which countries are these babies the most statistically likely to come from?
Using data from the CIA World Factbook, this graphic by Pratap Vardhan (Stats of India) paints a picture of the world’s demographics, showing which countries are most likely to welcome the next 1,000 babies based on population and birth rates as of 2022 estimates.
The Next 1,000 Babies, By Country
Considering India has a population of nearly 1.4 billion, it’s fairly unsurprising that it ranks first on the list. Of every 1,000 babies born, the South Asian country accounts for roughly 172 of them.
|Place||Region||Births Per 1,000 Global Babies|
|🇨🇩 Congo, Democratic Republic of the||Africa||31.90|
|🇺🇸 United States||Americas||30.42|
|🇿🇦 South Africa||Africa||7.84|
|🇨🇮 Cote d'Ivoire||Africa||5.97|
|🇧🇫 Burkina Faso||Africa||5.41|
|🇬🇧 United Kingdom||Europe||5.37|
|🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia||Asia||3.69|
|🇸🇸 South Sudan||Africa||3.19|
|🇰🇵 Korea, North||Asia||2.71|
|🇰🇷 Korea, South||Asia||2.63|
|🇱🇰 Sri Lanka||Asia||2.35|
|🇸🇱 Sierra Leone||Africa||2.06|
|🇵🇬 Papua New Guinea||Oceania||2.04|
|🇩🇴 Dominican Republic||Americas||1.42|
|🇨🇫 Central African Republic||Africa||1.31|
|🇨🇬 Congo, Republic of the||Africa||1.30|
|🇸🇻 El Salvador||Americas||0.86|
|🇦🇪 United Arab Emirates||Asia||0.79|
|🇨🇷 Costa Rica||Americas||0.55|
|🇵🇸 West Bank||Asia||0.54|
|🇳🇿 New Zealand||Oceania||0.47|
|🇭🇰 Hong Kong||Asia||0.43|
|🇵🇸 Gaza Strip||Asia||0.41|
|🇬🇶 Equatorial Guinea||Africa||0.37|
|🇧🇦 Bosnia and Herzegovina||Europe||0.24|
|🇵🇷 Puerto Rico||Americas||0.18|
|🇲🇰 North Macedonia||Europe||0.16|
|🇸🇧 Solomon Islands||Oceania||0.12|
|🇹🇹 Trinidad and Tobago||Americas||0.11|
|🇨🇻 Cabo Verde||Africa||0.08|
|🇸🇹 Sao Tome and Principe||Africa||0.04|
|🇧🇸 Bahamas, The||Americas||0.04|
|🇳🇨 New Caledonia||Oceania||0.03|
|🇵🇫 French Polynesia||Oceania||0.03|
|🇱🇨 Saint Lucia||Americas||0.01|
|🇫🇲 Micronesia, Federated States of||Oceania||0.01|
|🇲🇭 Marshall Islands||Oceania||0.01|
|🇦🇬 Antigua and Barbuda||Americas||0.01|
|🇻🇨 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines||Americas||0.01|
|🇻🇮 Virgin Islands||Americas||0.01|
|🇮🇲 Isle of Man||Europe||0.01|
|🇲🇵 Northern Mariana Islands||Oceania||0.01|
|🇹🇨 Turks and Caicos Islands||Americas||0.01|
|🇫🇴 Faroe Islands||Europe||0.01|
|🇦🇸 American Samoa||Oceania||0.01|
|🇰🇾 Cayman Islands||Americas||0.01|
|🇰🇳 Saint Kitts and Nevis||Americas||0.00|
|🇸🇽 Sint Maarten||Americas||0.00|
|🇲🇫 Saint Martin||Americas||0.00|
|🇻🇬 British Virgin Islands||Americas||0.00|
|🇸🇲 San Marino||Europe||0.00|
|🇼🇫 Wallis and Futuna||Oceania||0.00|
|🇨🇰 Cook Islands||Oceania||0.00|
|🇸🇭 Saint Helena, Ascension, and Tristan da Cunha||Africa||0.00|
|🇧🇱 Saint Barthelemy||Americas||0.00|
|🇫🇰 Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas)||Americas||0.00|
|🇵🇲 Saint Pierre and Miquelon||Americas||0.00|
It’s worth noting that, while India ranks number one on the list, the country’s birth rate (which is its total number of births in a year per 1,000 individuals) is actually slightly below the global average, at 16.8 compared to 17.7 respectively.
China, which comes second on the list, is similar to India, with a high population but relatively low birth rate as well. On the other hand, Nigeria, which ranks third on the list, has a birth rate that’s nearly double the global average, at 34.2.
Why is Nigeria’s birth rate so high?
There are various intermingling factors at play, but one key reason is the fact that Nigeria’s economy still is developing, and ranks 131st globally in terms of GDP per capita. Further, access to education for women is still not as widespread as it could be, and research shows that this is strongly correlated with higher birth rates.
The World’s Population Growth Rate is Declining
While there are hundreds of thousands of babies born around the world each day, it’s worth mentioning that the world’s overall population growth rate has actually been declining since the 1960s.
This is happening for a number of reasons, including:
- Increased wealth around the world, which research has correlated with fewer births
- Various government policies discouraging large families
- The global shift from rural to urban living
By 2100, global population growth is expected to drop to 0.1%, which means we’ll essentially reach net-zero population growth.
This would increase our global median age even further, which poses a number of economic risks if countries don’t properly prepare for this demographic shift.
Ranked: The 20 Countries With the Fastest Declining Populations
Population decline is a rising issue for many countries in Eastern Europe, as well as outliers like Japan and Cuba.
Visualizing Population Decline by Country
Since the mid-1900s, the global population has followed a steep upwards trajectory.
While much of this growth has been concentrated in China and India, researchers expect the next wave of growth to occur in Africa. As of 2019, for example, the average woman in Niger is having over six children in her lifetime.
At the opposite end of this spectrum are a number of countries that appear to be shrinking from a population perspective. To shed some light on this somewhat surprising trend, we’ve visualized the top 20 countries by population decline.
The Top 20
The following table ranks countries by their rate of population decline, based on projected rate of change between 2020 and 2050 and using data from the United Nations.
|6||🇧🇦 Bosnia and Herzegovina||18.2%|
|18||🇲🇰 North Macedonia||10.9%|
Many of these countries are located in or near Eastern Europe, for reasons we’ll discuss below.
The first issue is birth rates, which according to the Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE), have fallen since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Across the region, the average number of children per woman fell from 2.1 in 1988 to 1.2 by 1998.
Birth rates have recovered slightly since then, but are not enough to offset deaths and emigration, which refers to citizens leaving their country to live elsewhere.
Eastern Europe saw several waves of emigration following the European Union’s (EU) border expansions in 2004 and 2007. The PIIE reports that by 2016, 6.3 million Eastern Europeans resided in other EU states.
There are two geographical outliers in this dataset which sit on either side of Europe.
The first is Japan, where birth rates have fallen continuously since 1970. It wasn’t until 2010, however, that the country’s overall population began to shrink.
By the numbers, the situation appears dire. In 2021, 811,604 babies were born in Japan, while 1.44 million people died. As a result of its low birth rates, the island nation also has the world’s highest average age at 49 years old.
The Japanese government has introduced various social programs to make having kids more appealing, but these don’t appear to be getting to the root of the problem. For deeper insight into Japan’s low birthrates, it’s worth reading this article by The Atlantic.
The second country is Cuba, and it’s the only one not located within the Eastern Hemisphere. Cuba’s fertility rate of 1.7 children per woman is the lowest in the Latin American region. It can be compared to countries like Mexico (2.2), Paraguay (2.5), and Guatemala (3.0).
Cuba’s immigration is also incredibly low compared to its neighboring countries. According to the International Organization for Migration, immigrants account for just 0.1% of its total population.