Baghdad Ranks Last On Expatriate Wish List

March 1, 2004 ( - Expatriates are a little skittish about accepting a work assignment in Baghdad at the moment, while at the same time Switzerland's municipalities receive high marks.

The city straddling the Tigris and Euphrates rivers saw its overall quality-of-life score plummet from 30.5 last year to a miniscule 14.5 in the latest reading of Mercer Human Resource Consulting’s quality-of-life survey. Expatriates expressed concern about overall security and the city’s precarious infrastructure.

With the nose-dive of quality of life scores in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad now joins such other shunned global hotspots as Bangui in the Central African Republic, with a score of 28.5 and Brazzaville and Pointe Noire in Congo, scoring 29.5 and 33.5, respectively.

In the end, Baghdad’s quality of life score was knocked down by an overt threat of terrorism a threat that has only widens the gap between the Baghdads and Zurichs of the world. “The threat of terrorism in the Middle East and the political and economic turmoil in African countries has increased the disparity between cities at the top and the bottom end of the rankings,” Rebecca Powers, an international consultant in Mercer’s San Francisco office, said in a news release.

The Swiss topped the other end of the index. Zurich and Geneva are the world’s top-scoring cities, at 106.5 points. Geneva gained half a point on its index score to move up from second place last year and pushes Vancouver down a place, with a score of 106 in the latest index. This move takes into account Geneva’s schools where standards of education, both in public and private schools, are now rated among the best in the world.

Overall, cities in Europe, New Zealand, and Australia continue to dominate the top of the rankings. Vienna shares third place with Vancouver, while Auckland, Bern, Copenhagen, Frankfurt, and Sydney share fifth place with a score of 105. Rounding out the top 10 was a tie at 10 th place between Amsterdam and Munich, both of which had scores that remained unchanged from last year, 104.5.

US cities have slipped in the rankings this year as tighter restrictions have been imposed on entry into the country. Increased security checks on arrivals and departures from the country can be very time-consuming for expatriates. Honolulu and San Francisco rank highest, both at position 24, scoring a 102. Atlanta ranks lowest at position 66, scoring a 94.5.

To arrive at the index score, cities are ranked against New York as the base city, which has a rating of 100, which this year ranked the Big Apple in 38 th place. The analysis is part of a worldwide quality-of-life survey, covering 215 cities. More information, and a copy of the survey, can be obtained by contacting Mercer at (800) 333-3070.