Lovability: restoring liveability’s human face

Liveability has become one of the most important ideas to influence international urban governance and planning. On one level, this should be no surprise – after all, who can disagree that cities ought to be places where people can live? But from here things get tricky.

While debate continues on a precise definition of liveability, the idea has manufactured industry standards in empirical urban rankings based on an ever-growing number of data points. It seems timely to ask whether liveability, in its current state, tells us enough about the quality of cities as places to live.

Liveability indices are generally produced for specific purposes. These may include quantifying lifestyle or economic factors, or informing global companies in their decisions about staff recruitment.

Naturally, the purpose of an index frames how liveability is defined and measured. Most indices rely on hard data (such as demographic information), while some seek to survey people who interact with a city. Still others employ mixed methods.

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