Why have Swiss cities become 'more liveable' during the pandemic?
While European cities have fallen in the liveability rankings, those in Switzerland have climbed. Why?
Switzerland's largest municipalities, Zurich and Geneva, are the only European cities ranked in the top 10 best places to live.
Zurich and Geneva placed in the seventh and eighth place, respectively, in the Global Liveability Index 2021 released on Thursday by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU)
The study surveyed 140 cities around the world based on 30 factors in five broad categories: stability (25 percent), health care (20 percent), culture and environment (25 percent), education (10 percent), and infrastructure (20 percent).
The two Swiss cities got the highest score, 100, in the healthcare category, 96.4 in infrastructure and 95 in stability. They fared slightly less well in culture and environment (85.9 for Zurich and 84.5 for Geneva) and in education (83.3).
Interestingly, while in 2018 and 2019 Vienna topped the charts, this year the Austrian capital slipped into the 12th place, while Zurich and Geneva climbed up to the top 10 from the 11th and 14th place previously.
Why have Zurich and Geneva done better than other European cities?
They are higher in the rankings “largely because the Swiss lockdown was less stringent than in most of Europe”, Ana Nicholls, the EIU’s Industry Director told The Local.
“Restrictions in these cities began to be lifted on March 1st, opening up sports, cultural and leisure facilities, especially for under-18s, as well as allowing small private outdoor events”, she added.
Vienna and other European cities like Frankfurt, Hamburg and Dusseldorf have fallen down the rankings “largely due to the course of the pandemic and the timing of our survey”, Nicholls said.
“We conducted the research between February 22nd March 21st this year, when Europe was battling a new wave of coronavirus cases and many cities were in lockdown. As a result, the index for "Culture and the environment" fell, because many museums, shops and restaurants were shut. Healthcare systems also came under strain as they dealt with Covid cases”, she noted.
Overall, cities in New Zealand, Australia and Japan got the highest scores in the survey.
Auckland ranks in the first place, followed by Osaka (2), Adelaide (3), Wellington (4) , Tokyo (5), Perth (6), Melbourne (9) and Brisbane (10).
It is not the first time that Swiss cities rank high in international studies. Zurich, Geneva and Basel often rate among the world’s 10 best cities in terms of quality of life.