The Deceptive Business of City Rankings

A new report by planning consultant Zach Taylor exposes the politics behind the scenes of "Best Cities" lists. Taylor believes the motives behind all the parties involved are often not transparent.
October 18, 2011, 7am PDT | Tim Halbur
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The study, titled Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics: A Critical Examination of City Ranking Studies breaks down the types of "best cities" reports into those based on economic success, ranking livability, and those on the cost of doing business:

"The business cost- and livability-oriented reports are commercial products sold by consulting firms to other corporations on a for-profit basis," writes Taylor in the report.

"These reports have a narrow purpose -- to help multinationals determine hardship allowances for expatriate executives. Unfortunately, these studies are often misrepresented in the media. For example, focusing on well-off expatriates' experience of local residents, yet such rankings are often taken as general indicators of a city's economic performance or livability."

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Published on Monday, October 17, 2011 in The Atlantic Cities
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