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There are a lot of analysis that helps to define the world cities ranking.

One of the
rankings used is quality of living index. According to Monocle (2015), there a several
criteria that form the ranking which are affordable housing, local public transport,
crime rate and a good business climate. Besides that, there are various other factors
which are quite subjective such as joy of life, tolerance and vibrating nightlife. It can
be seen in that the list of the cities are mainly consist of countries from the West and
this may spark a question on whether the ranking is having a racial prejudice against
the Asian cities. In addition, there is one article by Simon Kuper (2015) suggesting
that the future of the world is dependent entirely to the cities in the west which will be
discussed further below.

One of the ranking of world cities that are considered are the quality of living
rankings by Monocle (2015) and it is the updated version. Hence, the information that
are extracted from it will be reliable.


Hong Kong

New Zealand
Hong Kong (Autonomous region)
United States
Table 1

List of top 25 cities from the quality of life survey done by Monocle.

One city that chosen is Singapore and a comparable city will be Copenhagen,
Denmark. Below is the brief description of both cities with a detailed explanation on
the differences of the cities.
Singapore or referred as Republic of Singapore is located off the southern tip of the
Malay Peninsula. The total population of the city is around 5.6 million consisting of
various etnic groups as shown below.

Percentage (%)

Table 3
Source: IndexMundi (n.d.)
According to Forbes (2014), Singapore has successfully become an open and
corruption-free environment with stable price and achieved a GDP per capita that is
higher than other developed countries. The main source of income of the city comes
mainly from exports in consumer electronics, information technology products,
pharmaceutical and a strong financial services sector. Therefore, there a lot of
investment opportunities in Singapore for opening business and multinational
companies start to invest to establish a global offices and operations as Singapore is
regarded as one of the most strategic business hub in Asia. Besides that, the
infrastructures and the public transport system is excellent making it pleasant for
anyone to travel without a car. Hence, this city is a good opportunity for job
employment and business opportunity. In terms of quality of living, Singapore stand
in the 13th place.

Copenhagen, capital city of Denmark also one of the largest cities in northern Europe.
It is one of Europes busiest hub. Copenhagen has a urban population of 1, 213, 822
people and metropolitan population of 1,950,522. (World Capital Institute, 2013).
Copenhagen has a number of bridges and tunnels connecting all parts of the city
together. Besides that, the city is the third-ranking fashion convention city and hosting
countless conferences. With that, Copenhagen has become one of the leading
conference city. Furthermore, in terms of infrastructure, nevertheless, Copenhagen
University has been accepted into global network of leading universities. In the
economic aspect of Copenhagen, it has change from industrialisation to
manufacturing of high tech materials. Hence, a high skilled labour is needed for the
knowledge intensive sector (Copenhagen.com, n.d.). In terms of quality of living,
Copenhagen stand at the 10th place which is slightly higher than Singapore.

In the top 25 list, in Western Europe, we have 11 cities. In the US, we have only one
city whereas in Canada, we have also one city only. In Australia, we have 2 cities and
one city in New Zealand. Table 2 below is the percentage breakdown of the cities
according to region where majority of the city dominating the list is from the Western
Europe which is 44% followed by cities in Asia which is 20%.

Western Europe
Northern Europe
New Zealand

Percentage (%)

Table 2

The differences between the two cities Singapore and Copenhagen are determined by
using criteria that used to measure quality of life according to Pukeliene and
Starkauskiene (2011). A flow chart is used to help to explain the differences of
quality of life in Appendix 1
External Environment of Quality of Life
Natural Environment

The climate in Copenhagen seems to follow the 4 seasons where it has summer,
autumn, winter and spring whereas in Singapore, it has a tropical climate where it
stays hot and humid all year long. Copenhagen in 2014, according to European
Commission (2014), reviewed the city as European Green Capital in 2014 where it is
in a green, smart and carbon-neutral city whereas in Singapore, has an impressive
biodiversity. However, the city is always hit by haze from Indonesia which make quite
desirable to live as it will exposed to potential respiratory problems. The average
maximum temperature in Singapore is


compared to Copenhagen which is

average 11.1C .
Political Environment
In Copenhagen, the political environment there is considered stable with the head of
government in Denmark as the prime minister under the democratic ruling. The
people in Copenhagen also has the freedom of speech and there is not corruption held
in place (InterNations, n.d.) which it is the reason why Copenhagen is regarded as
conference city. Meanwhile in Singapore, the political system is under the leadership
of Peoples Action Party (PAP). PAP has implemented a strong political cultures with
solid management structure that are highly centralised and the political stability was
maintained well by the government.
Social Environment
Copenhagen has an excellent healthcare system with abundance of medical facilities
and services and the public education there is free of charge where as in Singapore,
there will be Central Provident Fund (CPF) which provides responsibility for their
citizens and they provides a comprehensive benefits. This reduces reliance on the state
and ensures fiscal sustainability among them (OECD, n.d.). Singapore also has total
of 48 hospitals (Ministry of Health Singapore, 2015) compared to Copenhagen where
it only have 5 hospitals (Embassy of The United States, n.d.). A larger number of
hospitals provide more accessibility and healthcare opportunities for the residents. In
terms of education, Copenhagen definitely has more universities compared to
Singapore where they only have 3 main public universities.
Economic Environment

Singapore has a higher GDP of $ 314.911 billion compared to Copenhagen which is $

83.3 billion. Singapore has a distinctly cheaper Big Mac under the Big Mac Index
according to The Economist (2015).

The unemployment rate in Copenhagen is

average 4.6% whereas in Singapore which is slight lower at only 2% (Channel

NewsAsia, 2015).

Internal Environment of Quality of Life

Physical Well-being
The health conditions of the residents in Copenhagen is excellent with wide array of
medical facilities although there are less hospital whereas in Singapore, the health
condition is good with the provision of high quality of medical services with safe
water supply (Ministry of Health Singapore, 2015).
Material Well-being
In Copenhagen, the average household income is around USD 26 491 a year (OECD,
n.d.) whereas in Singapore, the average household income per year is around USD 25
000 (The Straits Time, 2014). Copenhagen has a low population density compared to
Singapore. According to Tsenkova and Vestergaard (2011), Copenhagen has
implemented a social housing policy to provide affordable housing whereas in
Singapore, there is housing initiative, Housing and Development Board (HDB) where
the main objective is to achieve political objective (Singapore Infopedia, 2009) but
Copenhagen mainly focus on its residents.
Social Well-being
In Copenhagen, there are various places for leisure and family activities such as zoos,
parks, circuses and occasional events that are to be held from time to time (. In
addition, there are also various sports and outdoor activities that the residents can play
and have fun whereas in Singapore, they have international theme park such as
Universal Studio. On top of that, they have various places for leisure such as water
theme park, zoo and man-made garden. In Singapore, night life is so lively with
countless bars and club along the streets. A lot of young adults seem to be socialising

more at night which make Singapore one of the recommended place for night life as
night life is becoming more common nowadays.

The dominance of Western cities could be a sign of racist prejudice. This can be
explained by the ranking of the developed countries in the list. Most of the cities that
are in the developed countries belong to the countries in Western Europe where
majority of it consist of white people. One deduction is that they may have a
perception that white people like them are more superior than the Asian which form a
discrimination towards the Asian cities. In addition, Monocle, a publication based on
London is also from the white people community. Two more publication companies
that have done the quality of life survey which are Mercer and Economic Intelligence
Unit which has shown a different list of different cities. Hence, there are no element
of reliability of the data and can be said to be racist. Discrimination can occur on
Asian cities because of the amount of least developed cities are found there. White
people may think they are more superior than Asian and hence, come with a deduction
that the dominance of the Western cities may be because of racist prejudice
However, the dominance of Western cities also could not be a sign of racist
prejudice but rather could be the internal and external environments that affect the
Asian cities in terms of economic aspect, safety, climate change and infrastructures of
the cities. There are several issues that Asian cities face even though it has undergoing
global urbanisation. Globalisation has been a trend for most developing cities in Asia.
Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) has increased particularly in China with a more
aggressive development into mega cities (Steinbock, 2013). However, there are
negative impact towards it. According to Satterthwaite (2008), an increased in FDI
lead to an increased demand for land for industrial, commercial and residential
purposes. There are a poor and lower middle class communities that stay on a very
strategic land near city and they would need to be relocated which makes an
unpleasant situation for them as they need to look for another place to live. They

would be having hard time reaching for all the facilities such as medical and
education and at the same time, it is totally unaffordable for them to do so.
Furthermore, there are implications to this. Due to relocation, this could increase to
transportation cost and travel time to work. An increase in FDI into manufacturing
industry also increase in Asian cities across the year 2015 (IDC Manufacturing Insight
2015). With a major urbanisation, there is an increase in demand for automobiles (Yap
& Thuzar, 2012) eventually created severe traffic congestion which is an uneasy
experience for most of the drivers. For example, traffic congestion is severe in
Singapore despite having of the highest density. However, they do have one of the
highest ratios of vehicles per kilometre of road at the score of 281 (Gibb, 2013). All of
this will give an impression and direct impact that the quality of living in the Asian
cities would be less desirable than in Western cities. A huge climate change also
impact the quality of living in Asia compared to the West. The climate change also
influence the quality of life in the cities. Asia and Pacific region is regarded as the
most disaster prone area in the world (Dowling & Valenzuela, 2012). Hence, natural
disasters such as typhoon, earthquakes, tsunami and draughts may be a huge impact
on the quality of the living in these cities.
Hence, based on the facts and evidences, there is a clear judgement that the
dominance of Western cities is not a sign of racial prejudice but rather because of
the external and internal environment that affect the quality of living in the cities.
In the article by Simon Kuper, I do agree with some part of the facts that stated and as
mentioned above, the external and internal environment definitely play an important
role in determining the quality of living in the cities. With rapid urbanisation in the
Asian cities, the historical and cultural heritages are slowly disappearing. In an article
by Taylor (2013), he stated that the rapid urbanisation in China has caused destruction
of the human heritage such as traditional neighbourhoods. They are being replaced by
modern buildings and community spaces which is claimed to be architecturally dull
and unpleasant to inhabit. Another issue that affect the quality of living would be the
living spaces. Of course the more living spaces in the community such as larger
houses with larger rooms would attract the people to move to that place because it
would be comfortable. However, that is not the case in Hong Kong. In Hong Kong,
almost everyone lives in a congested flats. This is because there are less flat land are

used for residential use (Yip, 2011). Hence, the demand for property will be high due
to less residential area. According to Pak (2013), property prices are among the
highest in the world in Hong Kong with average 108,546 HK dollar ($ 13,980; RM
59,227). Therefore, with an increasing price level of the property, the poor and middle
income people hardly able to afford one spacious living space for their families which
sum up that the quality of living is somehow less desirable than in the West.

I do not agree with Simon Kuper that the future belongs entirely to the cities in the
West. In fact, Ng and Hills (2003) argue that with the rapid urbanisation in the world
cities, some cities in Asia are seeing a potential to be the potential mega cities and
able to outweigh some cities in the West. In the study conducted, 5 Asian cities which
are Tokyo, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taipei and Shanghai to be said to have a solid
economic environment with sufficient funds to build a world class infrastructure
which ultimately improve the quality of living in Asia. In a long run, Asian cities
would have developed a sustainable environment with technological advancement.
Besides that, some Asian cities such as Tokyo, Seoul and Bangkok are undergoing
greenbelts and zoning where they control mixture of rural and urban landscapes
(Yokohari, et. al.) to create a balanced ecological environment in the future. With the
initiatives by the authorities and government, it is proven possible that in the future,
Asian cities would be to achieve a sustainable and greener landscape and improve
quality of life there.
A difference between cities is important for the enjoyment of their residents as they
would want to have a city that they can settle down and eventually achieving a perfect
lifestyle. Different city would have different economic growth which jump to the fact
that the employment and business opportunities would be different. Therefore, some
people may choose a cities to live depending on the economic development of the
countries. For example, the Asian Financial Crisis may have an effect to the people
that it will affect the quality of living. A city with higher quality of living also will
boost the economy as more investment will be done resulting in an improved GDP of
the city and country.

In conclusion, Monocle has listed 25 cities from various countries with high quality of living
in 2015. From the table, there more Western cities compared to Asian cities which come to
a deduction that whether the dominance of the Western cities is a sign of racial prejudice.
However, that may not be the case because the facts show the limitation of both internal and
external environment of the Asian cities may be the cause that only a few cities from Asia are
in the list. Simon Kuper from Financial Times stated that some of Asian cities may have
weaknesses that affect the quality of living which I agree. However, I do not agree to the
statement that Western cities have the advantages in the future to be dominant. Some study
stated that Asian cities may outweigh the Western cities in future. The implication to this is
quality of life is important and dependent on the landscape of the cities and continuous
initiative to improve the cities have to be implemented to provide a good quality living to all
the residents in all the cities in the world.

(2750 words)