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Quality of Life: Sao Paulo Worsens

Montevideo is the best city in Latin America when it comes to quality of living and Port-au-Prince is worst.


The quality of life keeps deteriorating in Sao Paulo, Brazil's main business city. The city now ranks behind Quito in the latest annual quality of living survey from Mercer. Globally it ranks in 119th place, five spots lower than last year. In Latin America, it ranks 11th - two spots lower than last year.

Rio de Janeiro, which has ranked behind Sao Paulo in recent years, now is considered a better city in terms of quality of living. It ranks 114 - one spot better than last year and ahead of such cities as Istanbul in Turkey and Beijing in China. However, it's not the best Brazilian city for quality of living. That honor goes to capital Brasilia, which improved its score and ranks 105 worldwide ahead of cities like Zagreb in Croatia, Bangkok in Thailand.

The survey from Mercer looks at 39 key factors to measure the quality of living in a city, including political and social environment, economic environment, socio-cultural environment, health and sanitation, schools and education, public services and transportation, recreation, consumer goods, housing and natural environment. Surveys like the Mercer quality ranking play a key role when foreign multinationals decide compensation for executives in Latin America.

Sao Paulo wasn't the only city seeing deterioration in quality of living. Ten other cities in Latin America saw a decline in their scores, while 14 improved their quality points.

"Many of the Latin American cities such as Caracas, Bogotá or Port au Prince continue to be undermined by crime and political and economic turmoil," says Slagin Parakatil, senior researcher at Mercer. "Traffic congestion and pollution have also had an impact.”

Caracas and Santiago posted the worst declines in scores - down 2.1 points each, although their rankings were affected differently. Caracas fell 11 spots (the worst Latin American decline on the ranking) to 152nd place, while Santiago fell five spots to 88th place.

However, Bogota actually saw an improvement. Its score increased by 1.4 points and its ranking by five spots to 138th place. In both cases, that was the best performance among Latin American countries.

Montevideo in Uruguay remains the best city in Latin America and Port-au-Prince in Haiti the worst when it comes to quality of living. After Montevideo, the top cities are Buenos Aires, Santiago, Panama City and Monterrey in Mexico. At the bottom, Port-au-Prince is followed by Havana, San Pedro Sula and Managua.

Apart from Rio and Bogota, other cities that improved their scores include Asuncion, Medellin, Brasilia and Mexico City. The Mexican capital also moved up one pot on the ranking to 127th place.

Other noticeable results:

  • San Jose, Costa Rica remains the best city in Central America and within the CAFTA trade pact, while Managua remains the worst city.
  • Asuncion improved its score and ranks ahead of cities like Nassau in The Bahamas and Rio in Brazil.
  • Ecuador's top cities went opposite ways, with Quito improving its score, while Guayaquil worsened.
  • Both La Paz and Santa Cruz in Bolivia worsened.
  • Havana's quality of living is worse than cities like Tirana in Albania, Maputo in Mozambique and Novosibirsk in Russia.
  • The quality of life in Port-au-Prince has worsened and is worse than African cities like Lagos in Nigeria, Luanda in Angola and Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, according to the 2008 Quality of Living Survey from Mercer. 

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