Since 2009, average liveability across the world has fallen by 0.7%, led by a 1.3% fall in the score for stability and safety, according to The Economist Intelligence Unit's Global Liveability Ranking.
While this may seem marginal, it highlights that over 50 of the cities surveyed have seen declines in liveability over the last five years.
The past five years have seen civil unrest and conflict overtaking terrorism as a key drag on liveability scores. The most significant impact has come from the Arab Spring, which affected a number of countries in the Middle East and North Africa.
But austerity and the global economic crisis led to rioting and protests in North America and Western Europe as well.
Despite an underlying trend toward improving liveability China has not been exempt from spells of unrest triggered by a range of social problems, most notably anti-Japanese rioting in 2012.
"Liveability trends tend to move slowly, so it is unsurprising to see little or no movement among the top ranked cities," said Jon Copestake, editor of the survey. "But destabilization has had a catastrophic impact for some cities with a possible knock-on effect in neighboring countries."
Melbourne tops the ranking for the fourth year running, followed by Vienna and Vancouver. No change has registered in the score or ranking for the 60 most liveable cities surveyed since last year.
However, further down the ranking the picture is less reassuring.
Kiev in Ukraine has joined Tripoli in Libya and Damascus in Syria as a victim of war among the ranked cities.
The score of Tel Aviv in Israel is only unchanged because the threat of instability has been strong since the last conflict in Gaza five years ago. Moreover, instability in these countries threatens to spill over into neighboring states.