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World living standards improve for the first time in 10 years, index says, but terrorism remains a big threat

  • After 10 years of back-to-back slumps, global livability is finally showing an improvement, according to report released by the Economist Intelligence Unit
  • Nonetheless, global terrorism continues to threaten world living standards
  • Of the 12 cities that saw living standards improve, six were based in Asia, the report said

After 10 years of back-to-back slumps, global livability is finally showing an improvement, according to report released by the Economist Intelligence Unit on Wednesday. But terrorism, including several high-profile attacks in Europe, continues to threaten world living standards, a EIU statement on the report said.

The average livability score worldwide has fallen from 76.1 percent in 2007 to 74.8 percent today due to a combination of economic and political risks, the statement said. This year, the report registered a marginal average improvement in global scores: 0.06 percentage points.

Still, uncertainty due to perceived terror threats has resulted in lower scores for some cities. While Europe remains the region with the most livable cities, it saw a decline in ratings in the wake of several terrorist attacks, including those on Manchester, London and Stockholm.

"European cities have been dealing with the aftermath of terrorist attacks, increased unease towards Brexit, and there is still a degree of unease towards migrant crisis," Stefano Scuratti, EIU consulting principal, told CNBC.

People gather to see flowers in St Ann's Square in Manchester, England on May 31, 2017, placed in tribute to the victims of the May 22 terror attack.
Oli Scarff | AFP | Getty Images
People gather to see flowers in St Ann's Square in Manchester, England on May 31, 2017, placed in tribute to the victims of the May 22 terror attack.

Sydney, Australia also dropped from seventh to 11th place in the past two years.

"There have been more episodes in Sydney of suspected events [of terrorism], and general unease towards the topic," said Scuratti on Sydney's downgraded position.

In comparison, Melbourne was able to retain its position at the top of the index for the seventh consecutive year, in part because people did not perceive it as under a high terrorism threat, he added.

According to Scuratti, the biggest surprise in this year's ratings was Singapore, a wealthy Southeast Asian city state which leaped 17 places to finish at number 35. That expectation-beating performance was largely due to improvements in education, Scuratti said.

Singapore displayed "very good performance in its education indicators," said Scuratti. "The indicators show that Singaporeans are very good at math, science and reading."

Several other Asian countries also outperformed, relative to other locations. Of the 12 cities that saw living standards improve, six were based in Asia, according to the EIU statement.

This year's overall global improvement, despite small, suggests that living standards are finally stabilizing, the EIU statement said.