Project: Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics

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  • March 02, 2011

Hardly a month goes by without a report that a particular city is the best place to live, work, invest in, or visit. Rankings and ratings make for an easy news story. Reporting in numerical terms that Vancouver provides a quality of life superior to that of Johannesburg, or that Cleveland is a better place to do business than Paris, satisfies a contemporary appetite for cut-and-dried empirically grounded “facts.” And local media coverage of a city’s changing position in rankings has become a regular event that politicians and public officials dare not ignore.

How good are these rankings? How do they work? Are they well designed? How should they be interpreted by policymakers? This project sought to answer all these questions.

Featured in the Atlantic Cities blog.

This report was commissioned by the Intergovernmental Committee on Economic Development and Labour Market Development (the ICE Committee). Established in 1997, the ICE Committee coordinates the economic and labour Force development activities of the Government of Canada, the Province of Ontario, and the City of Toronto.

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