Toronto is the Lowest Risk City in the World for Employers, Says Aon Consulting

2010-09-27 16:20 1770

People Risk Index helps organizations assess risks when hiring, employing and moving staff

CHICAGO, Sept. 27 /PRNewswire-Asia/ -- A first-of-its kind global study found Toronto to be the city with the lowest risk in the world to recruit, employ and relocate employees, according to Aon Consulting, the global benefits and human capital consulting business of Aon Corporation (NYSE: AON).

Aon Consulting's People Risk Index measured the risks that organizations face with recruitment, employment and relocation in 90 cities worldwide[1] by analyzing demographics, education, employment practices and government regulations.  According to the Index, the five lowest risk cities for employers are Toronto, New York, Singapore, London and Montreal. On the opposite end of the ratings, locations such as Dhaka, Bangladesh; Phnom Penh, Cambodia; Lagos, Nigeria; Karachi, Pakistan; and Tehran, Iran, represent the least desirable of the 90 cities for employers.  (See Table 2, for 10 lowest and highest risk cities).

"The new risk ratings come at an opportune time as assessing employment risk takes on heightened importance as of late, from controversy over Arizona's strict new anti-illegal immigration law to recent strikes in China," said Rick Payne, chief research officer of Aon Consulting's Global Research Center, based in Singapore.  "As companies face these and other employment risks as well as take a close look at new investment opportunities in emerging markets, the ratings can help companies systematically and consistently assess the relative risks they face when hiring, employing and moving staff." 

Sibling Rivalry in the Five Lowest Risk Cities

Montreal and Toronto are among the five lowest risk cities primarily due to Canada's low level of corruption; strict enforcement of equal opportunity laws; health and retirement benefits; and high quality and broad availability of training facilities. The main difference between the two is due to Toronto's larger population as well as quality and broader availability of training resources, according to Aon.

The results also found New York and London's favorable ratings to be attributable to world-class educational institutions and training facilities, and a large pool of qualified and experienced talent. 

Singapore is the only city outside Europe and North America among the 10 lowest risk cities. Contributing to this rating is Singapore's strict laws on discrimination and occupational health and safety, flexibility on personnel costs, lack of corruption and willingness to work with the private sector on human resources related issues.

"A significant factor influencing the People Risk Index is government support," Payne said.  "Cities with low risk typically have a government that is transparent, non-confrontational, and deal with employment issues fairly. Employers in these cities are less likely to be surprised by changes in government policies on employment, health care, and retirement. Therefore, they have fewer issues finding and retaining educated and experienced talent. These employers also have more flexibility to restructure their operations without fear of incurring significant unanticipated costs."

Still, analysis of these low risk cities shows room for improvement.  For example, Toronto is not No. 1 in any category, even though it ranked No. 1 overall.  In fact, it is 14 in demographics and 12 in employment practices. New York, on the other hand, ranked No. 1 in education and 2 in talent development. And Singapore is No. 1 in government support but is ranked 41 in education. (See Table 3, for rankings by areas of risk)

"As the report indicates, even the lowest risk cities are not perfect," Payne said. "For instance, the talent pool in Toronto and Montreal is small compared to New York or Los Angeles, which increases the risk of recruiting for certain types of jobs such as highly specialized financial jobs and design/visual arts jobs.  Additionally, in Singapore the inflow of foreign talent helps to increase its talent pool despite its small population, low birth rate and aging workforce." 

Trends from the Highest Risk Cities

A common contributing factor of the five cities with the highest risk is an urbanization rate faster than its city can manage.  Dhaka, for example, has an estimated 12 million people living in a city originally designed for a population of 1 million.  Ratings for education factors such as low literacy, limited spending on education, and low enrollment in secondary and tertiary education also are significant reasons for the high scores among the 10 highest risk cities, according to the People Risk Index.

"The education system of an overcrowding city faces great challenges to cope with the fast growing urban population," Payne said. "In general, the lack of basic human capital infrastructure such as education systems and training resources, coupled with poor government support and a culture of bias and favoritism, contribute to the high people risk that we observe in these cities."

To obtain a copy of the 2010 People Risk Index Ratings, please visit

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About Aon Consulting's People Risk Index

The results are based on in-depth research conducted over a six-month period by the Aon Consulting Global Research Center. Data from more than 100 statistical sources provide the quantitative basis for the ratings, which were augmented by the assessment of Aon Consulting's local and regional human resources experts from around the world.

The 90 cities were selected based on population size, rate of population growth, level of business investment and geographic spread among the cities covered.  

Aon Consulting People Risk Index assigned ratings relative to risk for 25 qualitative and quantitative factors across five broad areas: Demographics; Education; Government Support; Talent Development; and Employment Practices. Each of the 25 factors has a scale from 1 (minimal risk) to 10 (extreme risk). Thus, the overall ratings are from 25 to 250, where 25 is minimal or no risk and 250 is extreme risk.

About Aon Consulting
Aon Consulting is among the top global human capital consulting firms, with more than 6,300 professionals in 229 offices worldwide. The firm works with organizations to improve business performance and shape the workplace of the future through employee benefits, talent management and rewards strategies and solutions. Aon Consulting was named the best employee benefit consulting firm by the readers of Business Insurance magazine in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009. For more information on Aon Consulting, please visit

About Aon

Aon Corporation (NYSE: AON) is the leading global provider of risk management services, insurance and reinsurance brokerage, and human capital consulting. Through its more than 36,000 colleagues worldwide, Aon delivers distinctive client value via innovative and effective risk management and workforce productivity solutions. Aon's industry-leading global resources and technical expertise are delivered locally through more than 500 offices in more than 120 countries. Named the world's best broker by Euromoney magazine's 2008, 2009 and 2010 Insurance Survey, Aon also ranked highest on Business Insurance's listing of the world's largest insurance brokers based on commercial retail, wholesale, reinsurance and personal lines brokerage revenues in 2008 and 2009. A.M. Best deemed Aon the number one insurance broker based on brokerage revenues in 2007, 2008 and 2009, and Aon was voted best insurance intermediary, best reinsurance intermediary and best employee benefits consulting firm in 2007, 2008 and 2009 by the readers of Business Insurance. Visit for more information on Aon and to learn about Aon's global partnership and shirt sponsorship with Manchester United.

Singapore People Risk Index Highlights

Singapore ranked as the third lowest risk city worldwide - tied with London - in the global ranking of 90 cities. The Lion City was the only city in Asia Pacific to make it into the 10 lowest risk cities. Tokyo rated the second lowest risk in Asia Pacific and was 12th in the global ranking. Melbourne, Sydney and Hong Kong completed the list of the five lowest risk cities in Asia Pacific.

Singapore ranked lowest risk worldwide in the area of government policies, which includes factors related to equal employment opportunity, rigidity of personnel costs, occupational health and safety regulations, government relations, and corruption. According to the People Risk Index Rating, companies operating in Singapore also face little risk in not being able to develop their people. The quality and depth of training resources means that companies can secure the training they need to develop and maintain high quality talent.

Low risk does not mean no risk

The primary risks cited by the Index that companies face in Singapore are related to its small population size, aging population and relatively high staff turnover rates. The ease of mobility and immigration helps offset the small size of the local talent pool; yet, staff resourcing still remains the number one people risk for companies in Singapore.

High income levels has enabled low risk cities like Singapore, Hong Kong and Tokyo to reduce their overall people risk with more investment in human capital development and infrastructures. However, economic resources alone may not be sufficient to differentiate the levels of people risk, in particular among the high income cities.

Table 1:  2010 Asia Pacific People Risk Rating – Highest and Lowest Risk Cities

City Rating
(25 – 250)
3 Singapore 74
12 Tokyo 82
15 Melbourne 84
16 Sydney 85
16 Hong Kong 85




79 Xi'an 161
83 Colombo 171
84 Hanoi 175
87 Karachi 180
89 Phnom Penh 189

At similar level of per capita GDP, the overall people risk for Singapore is considerably lower than Tokyo or Seoul. A large part of this outcome can be attributed to Singapore's willingness and ability to attract foreign talents that complement its own native workforce. Hong Kong also appears to enjoy similar advantage over Seoul or Tokyo. According to Payne, "An important factor for companies operating in a high income city in Asia is the ease of deploying or attracting talent to work in the city. Companies operating in cities unable or unwilling to attract foreign talent must expect a tougher challenge to fill key positions with the most qualified candidates."

Table 2:  10 Lowest Risk & 10 Highest Risk Cities

Lowest Risk Cities


Highest Risk Cities
Rank City Rating (25-250) Rank City Rating (25-250)
1 Toronto 70 90 Dhaka 190
2 New York 73 89 Phnom Penh 189
3 Singapore 74 88 Lagos 182
3 London 74 87 Karachi 180
5 Montreal 77 86 Tehran 178
6 Zurich 78 85 Nairobi 177
6 Stockholm 78 84 Hanoi 175
8 Copenhagen 79 83 Colombo 171
8 Amsterdam 79 82 Cairo 169
10 Los Angeles 80 80 Lima 164





80 St. Petersburg 164

Table 3: People Risk Rankings by Area of Risk




Toronto New York Singapore London Montreal
Overall Ranking 1 2 3 4 5
Ranking by Area of Risk
Demographic 14 2 2 19 23
Government Support 2 12 1 10 2
Education 4 1 41 16 7
Talent Development 2 2 11 2 16
Employment Practices 12 23 23 6 12


Aon Consulting 2010 People Risk Index™

Country City Rank Overall Rating
(25 – 250)


Country City Rank Overall Rating
(25 – 250)
Bangladesh Dhaka 90 190


Czech Republic Prague 45 117
Cambodia Phnom Penh 89 189


Spain Barcelona 44 106
Nigeria Lagos 88 182


South Korea Seoul 43 105
Pakistan Karachi 87 180


Spain Madrid 42 103
Iran Tehran 86 178


United Arab Emirates Dubai 41 99
Kenya Nairobi 85 177


United States Detroit 40 98
Viet Nam Hanoi 84 175


Germany Frankfurt 38 97
Sri Lanka Colombo 83 171


Germany Berlin 38 97
Egypt Cairo 82 169


Belgium Brussels 36 96
Peru Lima 80 164


New Zealand Auckland 36 96
Russia St. Petersburg 80 164


Austria Vienna 35 95
China Xi’an 79 161


United Kingdom Manchester 34 94
Russia Moscow 78 157


France Paris 30 93
China Chengdu 77 154


United States Denver 30 93
India Kolkata 75 153


United States Phoenix 30 93
China Dalian 75 153


United States Seattle 30 93
Colombia Bogota 74 152


United States Washington DC 28 92
India Bangalore 72 151


United States Minneapolis 28 92
China Wuhan 72 151


United States Miami 27 91
India Chennai 71 150


United States Houston 25 90
Turkey Istanbul 70 149


Japan Osaka 25 90
China Tianjin 69 148


United States San Diego 22 89
Mexico Mexico City 68 147


United States Dallas 22 89
Indonesia Jakarta 67 144


United States Atlanta 22 89
Philippines Manila 64 142


Ireland Dublin 20 88
China Guangzhou 64 142


Taiwan Taipei 20 88
Greece Athens 64 142


United States Philadelphia 19 87
Argentina Buenos Aires 60 141


United States San Francisco 16 85
India Delhi 60 141


Hong Kong Hong Kong 16 85
Brazil Rio de Janeiro 60 141


Australia Sydney 16 85
China Shenzhen 60 141


Australia Melbourne 15 84
India Mumbai 59 138


United States Boston 13 83
South Africa Johannesburg 58 137


Canada Vancouver 13 83
Italy Rome 56 136


Japan Tokyo 12 82
Saudi Arabia Riyadh 56 136


United States Chicago 11 81
Brazil Sao Paulo 54 135


United States Los Angeles 10 80
Thailand Bangkok 54 135


Netherlands Amsterdam 8 79
China Shanghai 53 130


Denmark Copenhagen 8 79
China Beijing 52 129


Sweden Stockholm 6 78
Malaysia Kuala Lumpur 51 128


Switzerland Zurich 6 78
Italy Milan 49 126


Canada Montreal 5 77
Poland Warsaw 49 126


United Kingdom London 3 74
Portugal Lisbon 48 125


Singapore Singapore 3 74
Chile Santiago 47 119


United States New York 2 73
Israel Tel Aviv 46 118


Canada Toronto 1 70

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[1] The 90 cities were selected based on population size, rate of population growth, level of business investment and geographic spread among the cities covered.

Source: Aon Corporation