Survey ranked S'pore no. 1 for infrastructure but no. 25 for quality of living

In other words, nice infrastructure is a necessary but insufficient condition for a good life.

Belmont Lay | March 14, 2017, 04:06 PM

The Straits Times reported on a survey finding on March 14, 2017:


The ST article with the headline oozing with effusive praise is about Mercer's 2017 Quality of Living survey of 231 cities that has ranked Singapore pretty high up the totem pole internationally.

The survey is authoritative enough to warrant coverage as it helps companies and organisations determine compensation and hardship allowances for international staff. The dozens of criteria it uses include political stability, health care, education, crime, recreation and transport.

Reading ST's headline, the impression a reader would have is that Singapore is number one -- which is only half the case.

Because what the headline failed to mention is the fact that Singapore is ranked at an unsexy number 25 internationally for quality of living, despite being ranked number one for infrastructure.

The top spot for best city went to Vienna, Austria's grand capital.

Singapore is only top when compared to other Asian countries -- a fact reflected in the headline.

So, what the headline obscures is how despite coming up tops for city infrastructure, Singapore pales in comparison in other metrics that make cities more livable.

This shows that nice infrastructure is a necessary but insufficient condition for a good life.

This is so, as the original Reuters report wrote:

Vienna's 1.8 million inhabitants benefit from the city's cafe culture and museums, theatres and operas. Rents and public transport costs in the city, whose architecture is marked by its past as the centre of the Habsburg empire, are cheap compared with other western capitals.

Cost of living, culture and architecture all play a role in making a place livable.

In summary, this is what you should take away from this news:

- Singapore is ranked 25th best city in the world

- Singapore is the top city in the Asia region

- Singapore is ranked number one for best city infrastructure

And surveys are always trying to compare apples with oranges.


Top photo via Pixabay

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