Are cities in Asia becoming better places to live?
To read more of The Economists data journalism visit our Graphic Detail page. Asia is home to around 2,300 languages, more than 4.6bn people and myriad cultures and customs. Such diversity is also reflected in its cities. In a ranking of liveability by EIU, our sister company, Asia and Australasia contained some of the worlds least and most pleasant cities in which to live. Karachi, Pakistan lags near the bottom; Melbourne, Australia soars near the top. But most cities in the region had something in common this yearthey became relatively more liveable. Asian and Australasian cities together registered the biggest jumps of any region. Why are they becoming nicer? Cities have to impress EIU judges in five categories: culture and environment, education, health care, infrastructure, and stability. For a third year, the pandemic contaminated the surveys results. Covid rules and caseloads eased in Asia and Australasia throughout 2022, which helped bump up scores relative to other regions that lifted restrictions earlier. Wellington and Auckland, New Zealands two biggest cities, made the biggest moves up EIUs rankings, thanks to fewer pandemic curbs and the reduced strain on hospitals. For similar reasons Melbourne, in Australia, became the third most liveable city globally, from 10th in 2022, and remained the highest-placed in the region, thanks to near-perfect scores across all five categories. Hong Kong leapt 13 places up the rankings after lifting pandemic rules. More incremental developments are also making Asian cities better places to live. Take infrastructure. India, for instance, is in the midst of a huge transport upgrade. Fast new trains are surging into Delhi, an expanded metro is zipping across Mumbai and 10,000km of highways are being built across the country each year. Education is gradually improving in parts of Asia, too. Hanoi, Vietnams capital, saw the fifth-biggest jump up EIUs global ranking, in part because of the continued success of its schools. Judged by aggregate learning scores, students in Vietnam now outperform their counterparts in Britain and Canada, according to the World Bank. Asian cities gains have come in part because they have leapfrogged western European ones. But not everything is rosy. Indian cities did not register big improvements to their overall scores, partly because of worsening climate conditions. Floods devastated northern India in July, and nine of the worlds ten cities most afflicted by air pollution are now in South Asia. More trouble may lie ahead. The regions stability scorewhich tracks crime, civil unrest and warfell over the past year. Supply-chain disruptions and high food prices will continue to fuel anger in the coming months. That may prompt more unrest in Asian cities, threatening to undercut recent gains. There have been mass protests recently in Bangladesh, for instance, sparked partly by surging inflation. Expect more turmoil.