Research Design: How Baghdad is both the best and worst city in the world

How do we make judgments about the “best” and “worst” cities on earth?  This week’s blogosphere highlighted the age-old debate between qualitative and quantitative data.

The discussion started with the launch of Mercer’s 2012 Quality of Living Survey which measures the best and worst of the world’s largest cities by “dozens of metrics, including internal stability, law enforcement effectiveness, education, crime levels and the quality of health care in the city.”  A breakdown of Mercer’s report that shows some of the statistical rankings can be found here.

In response to Mercer’s survey, the blog RYOT published their own “Best and Worst Cities” which is the complete opposite of the Mercer report.  Their findings are based on mostly qualitative information.  The satirical piece demonstrates that by simply taking into account traditional measures, Mercer’s study could actually “stifle foreign investment, tourism and some of the things that help nations grow.”


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