Thursday, November 18th, 2010
This post has been sitting in my draft file for a while, but over the summer the European Union put out a study on perceptions of quality of life in European cities that was interesting. The study involved surveying people in 75 cities across Europe (including a few in non-EU countries like Turkey) and asking them what they thought about various aspects of life in their city.
This is interesting to me because as Americans we typically experience these cities as tourists. We stay in hotels in the historic core, we travel to a circumscribed list of sites, well served by transit, well-policed, and well-patronized. But that can give a warped and misleading view of what it would be like to live there. While perception isn’t always reality, it is interesting to me to see what Europeans like and don’t like about their cities.
On the positive side, Europeans generally feel positively about:
- Cultural Facilities
- Public Spaces
- Beauty of Streets and Buildings
- Public Transport
- Quality of Health Services (in northern Europe)
A small majority in most cities believed that the presence of foreigners was good for their city, though significantly fewer felt foreigners were well-integrated. This is an interesting finding given the news that makes its way to America about some of the immigrant issues there.
On the negative side, residents did not like:
- The Job Market
- Availability of Affordable Quality Housing
There were also pockets of specific types of dissatisfaction. All Italian cities thought air pollution was a major problem. All German cities but Munich were negative on the quality of city administrative services. Whether these geographic specific findings are legitimate or a result of cultural factors I don’t know. I do know that when my IT group did global customer satisfaction surveys, we implicitly normalized the scores on a geographic basis since some countries were more inclined to give high scores than others. (This was reflected in a broad range of survey types).
It’s an easy to scan report, so worth checking out if you are curious about how Europeans feel about their own cities. You can compare it to how you feel about yours. The only obnoxious thing about it is the use of native spellings of city names rather than using English names. But you should be able to figure it out.