Livability and access to urban goods in Melbourne
- Publication Type:
- Livable Cities from a global perspective, 2018, 1, pp. 176 - 187
- Issue Date:
This chapter argues that livability indices, although often taking account of overall levels of social inequality, have usually ignored the distribution of the urban goods that underpin the concept of livability—public safety, health and education services, housing access, traffic congestion, environmental quality, and cultural life. Indices such as the Mercer Quality of Living survey, Economic Intelligence Unit, and the Most Livable Cities index have simplified complex social measures by abstracting them from any spatial context. Although this is not surprising given the focus of most indices on global corporations and their employees, city rankings are powerful tools of urban boosterism that can have a dampening effect on legitimate criticism of urban trends. If “what we measure is what we pay attention to,” a more sophisticated understanding of livability indices may improve policy debates about metropolitan futures. This chapter will use detailed spatial data on a set of key urban goods to analyze the distribution of access to “livability” across the Melbourne metropolitan regions. On the basis of this analysis, I will draw conclusions about how the experience of “livability” is distributed among cohorts of the population. For example, how does the experience of recent immigrants, elderly homeowners, and young globally mobile renters differ? The conclusions may offer some insight into alternative ways of constructing livability indices to offer a more spatially nuanced picture that would be more useful for urban policy.
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