Complexity of Urban Living

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PIDE Working Papers 2008:46

On Measuring the Complexity of Urban Living

Lubna Hasan
Pakistan Institute of Development Economics, Islamabad



All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise—without prior permission of the author(s) and or the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics, P. O. Box 1091, Islamabad 44000.

© Pakistan Institute of Development Economics, 2008.

Pakistan Institute of Development Economics Islamabad, Pakistan E-mail: Website: Fax: +92-51-9210886 Designed, composed, and finished at the Publications Division, PIDE.

CONTENTS Page Abstract 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Introduction Ranking Places and Urban Life Methodological Issues in City Rankings Major City Ranking Initiatives Pakistani Cities in the International Perspective Conclusion and Recommendations Appendix References v 1 2 4 10 20 23 26 27


List of Tables 8 9 10 11 12 14 17 18 23 26

Table 1. QoL Factors Used to Assess Key City Rankings Table 2. Summary of Dimensions Used in QoL Studies Table 3. Items Considered Most Important in People’s Lives Table 4. UN-HABITAT GUIP List of Indicators Table 5. Calculation of CDI by UN-HABITAT GUIP Table 6. Calculation of CDI by ADB CDB Table 7. Weights of EIU Cost-of-living Index Table 8. Weights of EIU QoL Index Table 9. Mercer Cost-of-living Index Appendix Table A1. Dimensions of CDI as measured by ADB


List of Figures 21 21 22 22

Figure 1. City Development Index Figure 2. Ranking and World Cities by GUO City Development Index Figure 3. Connectivity Index Figure 4. Congestion Index

ABSTRACT This paper explores the concept of city ranking as a way to measure the dynamics and complexities of urban life. These rankings have various dimensions and uses. Both the context in which these rankings are done and their nature have changed considerably over time. These rankings face many methodological and measurement problems. A review of major city rankings and the related literature is carried out to suggest a framework for the ranking of Pakistani cities.

JEL classification: R12, O18, R23 Keywords: Quality of Life, Cities, Urbanisation

“Since the sources of the new economic growth are so various and finally perhaps so fickle, the possibilities are endless. It is no accident that, as never before, ranking of cites dominates the media”. [Hall (1995)] “…you cannot properly measure what you don’t understand; and you cannot improve what you don’t measure”. [Peter Newton in ADB (2001)]

1. INTRODUCTION Cities have acquired a phenomenally important role in today’s world. From being “isolated seats of power from where to govern rural holdings,” cities have become the ultimate abode of humanity, and human beings are now a predominantly city dwelling species. Today every second person inhabiting the world is an urban dweller.1 The trend is not going to change in the near future as the urban population is expected to grow at double the rate of growth of total world population during 2005–2030 [UNCHS (2007)]. This has encouraged efforts at measuring the diversity of urban life and of cities as such.2 Generally dubbed as ‘city rankings’ or ‘city ratings’, these exercises are aimed at measuring and comparing cities on a variety of aspects- quality of life (QoL), cost of living, business climate/opportunities, and other criteria. These rankings are done by popular magazines, business consulting firms, international agencies, and academic institutions, and attract a great deal of media and public attention. In particular, QoL comparisons among areas interest residents, business persons, politicians, and policy-makers as evidence compiles in favour of a link between area amenities and the location decisions of households and firms...
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