By Tim Barwell
(Bloomberg) — Vienna scored the highest for a second year in Mercer Consulting's annual rankings of cities worldwide for quality of living, followed by Zurich and Geneva.
Remaining at the bottom of the table were Baghdad; Bangui, Central African Republic; and Ndjamena, Chad, Mercer said in an e-mailed statement accompanying the rankings of 221 cities.
The consulting company, a unit of Marsh & McLennan Cos., does the survey to help employers compare countries so they can compensate workers fairly when placing them on international assignments. It measures 39 factors, including political stability, crime, currency exchange, personal freedom and health and sanitation.
The top U.S. cities were Honolulu at 31 and San Francisco at 32, Mercer said. London placed 39th and New York came in 49th. Sydney, Melbourne, Auckland and Wellington, New Zealand, all placed in the top 20. Europe had 16 cities among the top 25. Athens ranked lowest for western Europe, at 75.
"Cities in many emerging markets, such as the Middle East or Asia, have seen a significant influx of foreign companies and their expatriate employees," Slagin Parakatil, senior researcher at Mercer, said in the report. "Quality of living and hardship premiums remain important means of compensating expatriates for differences in living conditions."
Singapore remained the top Asian city, at 28. Dubai ranked first in the Middle East, tying with Athens at 75.
Mercer also identified cities with the best "eco- rankings," based on factors including water quality, waste removal and air pollution. Calgary placed first, followed by Honolulu. Port-au-Prince, Haiti, finished at the bottom.
Most of the data for the 2010 survey were collected between September and November, Mercer said. Assessments are updated regularly to account for significant political, economic and environmental developments.
To contact the reporter on this story: Tim Barwell in London on firstname.lastname@example.org.