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Swiss cities and Singapore come out on top, Milan and Hong Kong marked down

The quality of living survey from Mercer Human Resources Consulting ranks Zurich and Geneva top among global financial services centres for their quality of life.

They are followed, in ranking order, by Frankfurt, Paris, Singapore, London, New York, Milan and Hong Kong.

Slagin Parakatil, one of the Mercer researchers who compiled the report, attributes the Swiss cities' pre-eminence to their political stability, good medical services, good banking services, and good shopping facilities. Like Geneva and Zurich, Frankfurt also benefits from internal stability, he says. London and New York were marked down due to the ongoing threat of terrorist attacks.

Despite today's announcement of French president Jacque Chirac's intention to drop the controversial labour law which has provoked rioting in the French city, Parakatil says the riots mean Paris is likely to fall down the rankings next year. - They weren't taken into consideration in this year's study.

He says Milan is marked down due a relative lack of internal stability in Italy, to crime in the city, and to air pollution and poor treatment of sewage. Hong Kong also suffers from notoriously bad air pollution.

Some challenge the validity of the rankings, however. For example, a British financial services headhunter working in Milan says the city offers a good standard of living: "We have great quality schools, great medical services, great food and great culture."

While Geneva and Zurich may have mountains on their doorstep, she says bankers in Milan have more variety: "The location is also fantastic: you can get to the Alps in one and a half hours, the sea in one and a half hours, Tuscany in two hours and Venice in three. We're at the centre of Europe."

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