Trade tensions and populist undercurrents continue to dominate the global economic climate. Combined with the spectre of monetary policy tightening and volatility looming over markets, international businesses are under more pressure than ever to get their overseas operations right. Mercer’s 21st annual Quality of Living survey shows that many cities around the world still offer attractive environments in which to do business, and the best understand that the quality of living is an essential component of a city’s attractiveness for businesses and mobile talent.
Hyderabad retained its position as the top city in India for the fifth year in a row along with its cohort from previous year - Pune, as the two cities ranking highest among the seven Indian cities surveyed. Ranked 143 each (dropping one place due to relative movement of surrounding global cities), both emerging megacities have stayed focused leaping ahead in rankings of traditional metros, investing in factors such as economic & public infrastructure, availability of variety of consumables, medical supplies and the like for local and international talent moving into the respective cities. New Delhi (162), on the other hand, stayed put as the lowest ranked city in India for the fourth consecutive year and with the lowest rating on air quality. The quality of living remained broadly unchanged from last year in other key cities, including Bengaluru (149 ), Chennai (151) , Mumbai (154), and Kolkata (160) .
“In India, the overall positioning of surveyed cities and quality of living remains largely unchanged from the previous year. While factors such as availability of consumables, ease of financial services rank relatively high, it would be worrying that critical considerations such as clean air, potable drinking water facilities, & ease in traffic congestion continue to remain areas of concern, with limited redressal over time”, noted Padma Ramanathan, India Practice Leader, Global Mobility.
“Strong, on-the-ground capabilities are integral to the global operations of most international businesses and are in large part driven by the personal and professional wellbeing of the individuals that companies place in those locations,” said Ilya Bonic, Senior Partner and President of Mercer’s Career business. “Companies looking to expand overseas have a host of considerations when identifying where best to locate staff and new offices. The key is relevant, reliable data and standardised measurement, which are essential for employers to make critical decisions, from deciding where to establish offices to determining how to distribute, house and remunerate their global workforces.”
Mercer’s authoritative survey is one of the most comprehensive of its type in the world and is conducted annually to enable multinational companies and other organisations to compensate employees fairly when placing them on international assignments. In addition to valuable data on relative quality of living, Mercer’s survey provides assessment for more than 450 cities throughout the world; this ranking includes 231 of these cities.
“City attractiveness & retention relies a lot on the living standard and how the city is perceived internationally. With the globalization and increased competition for talent, cities are striving harder in attracting & retaining businesses, internal talent and expatriate visitors. A low quality of living can impact all these segments. While Colombo tops the quality of living ranking in Southern Asia at 138, other notable cities such as Kuala Lumpur (85), Bangkok (133), Manila (137), and Jakarta (142”) rank higher than Indian cities.”, she added.
This year, Mercer provides a separate ranking on personal safety, which analyses cities’ internal stability; crime levels; law enforcement; limitations on personal freedom; relationships with other countries and freedom of the press. Personal safety is the cornerstone of stability in any city, without which business and talent cannot thrive.
Chennai, globally 105th, ranks as the safest city among those cities surveyed in India and also the region of Southern Asia, contributed by relatively better & consistent ranking on crime levels. In India, this is closely followed by Hyderabad (109) and Pune (112). Bengaluru (116) and Kolkata (116) fare similarly on the rankings, with Bengaluru having seen an increase in safety related issues, including sexual & petty crime incidents in previous years. New Delhi (138) has dropped significantly in its safety rankings comparatively over the past decade, impacted by crime levels, violent attacks and specific areas of the city persistingly unsafe & relatively more so for expatriates. Mumbai (144) has also seen a number of transportation and related civil unrest or strikes (or ‘bandh’) leading to disruption of daily living and hence internal stability in recent past, impacting its personal safety positioning. In Southern Asia, Karachi (226) is the least on personal safety rankings.
“The security of the individual is informed by a wide range of factors and is constantly in flux, as the circumstances and conditions in cities and countries change year over year. These factors are crucial for multinationals to consider when sending employees abroad because they consider any concerns around the expat’s own safety and can have a significant impact on the cost of international compensation programmes,” said Slagin Parakatil, Principal at Mercer and Global Product Owner for its Quality of Living research. “In order to stay abreast of the quality of living across all the locations where staff are deployed, companies need accurate data and objective methods to help them determine the cost implications of changing living standards.”
Notes to Editors
Mercer produces worldwide quality of living rankings annually from its Worldwide Quality of Living Survey. Individual reports are produced for each city surveyed. Moreover, comparative Quality of Living indexes between a base city and host city are available, as are multiple-city comparisons. Details are available at www.mercer.com/qualityofliving.
The data was analysed between September and November 2018, and it will be updated regularly to account for changing circumstances. In particular, the assessments will be revised to reflect significant political, economic, and environmental developments.The list of rankings is provided to media for reference, and should not be published in full. The top 10 and bottom 10 cities in either list may be reproduced in a table.
The information and data obtained through the quality of living reports are for information purposes only and are intended for use by multinational organisations, government agencies, and municipalities. They are not designed or intended for use as the basis for foreign investment or tourism. In no event will Mercer be liable for any decision made or action taken in reliance of the results obtained through the use of, or the information or data contained in, the reports. While the reports have been prepared based upon sources, information, and systems believed to be reliable and accurate, they are provided on an “as-is” basis, and Mercer accepts no responsibility/liability for the validity/accuracy (or otherwise) of the resources/data used to compile the reports. Mercer and its affiliates make no representations or warranties with respect to the reports, and disclaim all express, implied and statutory warranties of any kind, including, representations and implied warranties of quality, accuracy, timeliness, completeness, merchantability, and fitness for a particular purpose.
Mercer also helps municipalities to assess factors that can improve their quality of living rankings. In a global environment, employers have many choices about where to deploy their mobile employees and set up new business. A city’s quality of living can be an important variable for employers to consider.
Leaders in many cities want to understand the specific factors that affect their residents’ quality of living and address those issues that lower a city’s overall quality of living ranking. Mercer advises municipalities by using a holistic approach that addresses the goals of progressing towards excellence and attracting both multinational companies and globally mobile talent by improving the elements that are measured in its Quality of Living survey.
Mercer Hardship Allowance Recommendations
Mercer evaluates local living conditions in more than 450 cities surveyed worldwide. Living conditions are analysed according to 39 factors, grouped in 10 categories:
The scores attributed to each factor, which are weighted to reflect their importance to expatriates, permit objective city-to-city comparisons. The result is a Quality of Living index that compares relative differences between any two locations evaluated. For the indices to be used effectively, Mercer has created a grid that enables users to link the resulting index to a quality of living allowance amount by recommending a percentage value in relation to the index.