The most stressful cities of the world

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Stressful cities of the world

(Total score – 1=least stressful, 10=most stressful)


To select the cities in the ranking, we studied 500 locations based on data relating to the cities themselves, pollution, finance and the citizens. Within these we analysed criteria such as traffic, security and mental health issues. This determined a ranking of 150 cities, which highlights the most and least stressful cities with available data on all factors relating to the study.

To make a comparable quantification of how stressful each city is, we made a three-step evaluation of the data. First, we ranked the raw data from highest to lowest value and then we awarded a standard score based on their ranking in the following manner:

Scorei = 1 + 9 * ((xi-xmin) / (xmax-xmin))

A low score indicates a low level of stress, with each increasing number indicating a higher level of stress for this factor. A score of 1 represents the least amount of stress possible and 10 indicates the most. Secondly, all umbrella categories (City, Pollution, Finance and People) were given an overall score based on each sub-category. To create a comprehensive ranking, the Final Score is a weighted average of each individual umbrella category, as follows:

Final Scorei = 40% Cityi + 10% Pollutioni + 25% Financei + 25% Peoplei

Finally, we standardized the data to have a true final score. Note that for categories such as Green Spaces and Sunshine Hours, having a “high score” means that the city has a lower incidence of these phenomena. I.E. a city with a score of 10 for Sunshine Hours means that they rarely experience sunny days.City

Density: The average density of the city (population per km2). Sources: CIA: The World Factbook (population size), Google Maps (area of the city km2) and last official census number available (population size).

Green Spaces: Using Google Maps API service we were able to calculate the percentage of public green spaces inside the city limits.

Public Transport: Satisfaction with public transportation (percentage). Sources: Eurostat EU perception survey, surveys of individual countries, and surveys from peer-reviewed journals.

Traffic-Congestion Levels: How congested a cities’ roads are. Sources: TomTom congestion level, Inrix Global Traffic Scorecard.

Perception of Security: Weighted official average rate of theft and murders in the city. Then this was weighted with the local Perception of security per capita . Source: United Nations, official data from the city’s Police Department when available and polling of safety perception.

Sunshine Hours: Average percentage of sunshine hours in the city per year. Sources:, local meteorology station reports.Pollution

Air Pollution: Annual mean, ug/m3. Source: WHO

Noise Pollution: Survey of the perception of noise on the city based on the Mimi Hearing Index 2017.

Light Pollution: Mean light levels in the country. Source: lightpollutionmap.infoFinance

Unemployment: Unemployment rate (percentage) in the city. Sources: local official reports and OECD.

Debt Per Capita: Weighted average of external debt per capita and a debt score of debt ranking agencies (S and P, Fitch, Moody’s, Dagong), as well as national and local official data of debt per capita.

Social Security: Took into consideration unemployment insurance, healthcare and retirement. Weighted with the average between percentage of GDP spent on healthcare (Source:WHO) and Gini coefficient (a measurement of inequality in wages/income in economics) for wage inequality (Source: (world income inequality database).

Family Purchasing Power: Monthly average level of household salary per city, average price of living (cost of fast food, dinner out, public transport (monthly), rent (85 m2 furnished accommodation) Sources: Average salary surveys and average expenses surveys.People

Mental Health: Weighted average of suicide rates, awareness and coverage including the rate of psychologists working in the mental health sector per capita. Sources: WHO indicators and official national and local data where available.

Physical Health: The percentage of GDP spent on health care, levels of obesity and the weighted average of ratio of live births (WHO defined term for a birth where the baby survives) and percentage of births attended by skilled professional. Sources: WHO indicators.

Gender Equality: Labor force participation rate (15 and older) and gender gap report from the world economic forum, percentage. Sources: United Nations Human Development Report.

Race Equality: Weighted average of inequality rate based on ethnicities and languages. Sources: World Bank Ethnic Inequality report.

source: 2017 Global Least & Most Stressful Cities Ranking

*countries have been colored after the city with the highest rank if more than one are surveyed

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