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Mercer, the global human resources consulting firm, last week released its 21st annual Quality of Living list, which ranks cities around the world based on economic conditions, housing, health care, public services, safety, natural environment and other metrics. For the 10th year in a row, Vienna came out on top, with Zurich, Vancouver, Munich, Auckland, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Copenhagen, Geneva and Basel rounding out the top 10. The top U.S. city on the list was San Francisco, all the way down in 34th place. London, the top British city, was at 41st — tied with Milan, the top Italian city. Paris was 39th, New York 44th, Tokyo 49th, Beijing 120th, Baghdad 231st and last.

When I posted some of these results on Twitter, it occasioned lots of fun discussion and debate from people appalled that Ottawa ranked so high (19th) or Seoul so low (77th) or that so many of the cities near the top of the list are so … boring. I also got a bunch of responses, starting with one from Hoover Institution economist (and super-podcaster) Russell Roberts, that effectively asked, “If the quality of living is so low in U.S. cities, why do so many people from around the world keep trying to move here?”

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