And wouldn’t you know it – we actually slid a couple of spots from a similar study last year!
It’s almost redundant to reveal this, but it pays to back it up with research. According to a study conducted by Berlin-based company VAAY, the Philippines’ Manila is the third most stressful city to live in, based on several criteria calculated on a 100-point scale.
VAAY’s criteria mainly consisted of four categories: governance, city quality, finance, and health. For “governance,” it measured four things: safety and security, socio-political stability, gender equality, and minority equality.
For “city quality,” it looked at the city’s population density, traffic congestion, weather, as well as air, noise, and light pollution.
For “finance,” its metrics were unemployment rate, financial stress, and social security.
Lastly, for “health,” the factors of mental health, access to healthcare, and the city’s COVID-19 response stress impact were assessed.
These stress indicators were then computed against a 100-point grade. In total, Manila garnered a measly score of 29.4 across all these categories, with marks in traffic congestion (3.3), unemployment rate (8.8), and noise pollution (13.6) dragging down the country’s sum. Nonetheless, the tally showed that the city’s strongest areas were in the following categories: mental health status (94.9), light pollution (88.2), and appropriately, the city’s COVID-19 response stress impact (85.6).
The country’s capital just barely beat India’s Mumbai and Nigeria’s Lagos for the bottom spots, while lagging behind New Delhi, Baghdad, and Kabul. Topping the list is Reykjavik in Iceland, followed by Switzerland’s Bern, Finland’s Helsinki, New Zealand’s Wellington, and Australia’s Melbourne.
Looking at who excelled in each stress indicator, the city of Reykjavik snagged a perfect score for gender equality as well as for air and noise pollution. Qatar’s Doha was deemed the best in terms of safety and security, United Arab Emirates’ Abu Dhabi was given top marks under traffic congestion.
New Zealand’s Wellington earned a perfect 100 for socio-political stability, and so did Finland’s Helsinki for minority equality. Brazil’s Sao Paulo had the best score for weather across the board, while Switzerland’s Bern scored flawlessly under light pollution as well as financial stress. Bucharest in Romania had the lowest unemployment rate, while Brussels in Belgium had the highest social security score.
For the category of health, two Asian countries captured perfect marks: Singapore for mental health and Japan for its COVID-19 response stress impact. Norway’s Oslo led the pack in terms of access to healthcare.
“Our objective with this study is to show what cities can achieve for their citizens through effective governance, robust environmental policies, and well-resourced social welfare systems,” Vaay cofounder Finn Age Hänsel said in a statement. “The aim is not to single out the cities which may lag behind in any of these areas, but rather highlight those which are leading examples of what can be done to improve the well-being of their inhabitants.”
Last June 2020, the website Savvy Sleeper conducted a similar study which ranked global cities by their burnout potential. It calculated indicators such as employee presenteeism, stress reviews from employees, mental health and prevalence of substance abuse, average sleep duration, annual work hours, and time spent in traffic. In the end, it concluded that Manila was the fifth most stressful city in the world.
Back in April, Manila also figured in another study. The city showed similarly dismal results in iPrice’s research assessing the most expensive Southeast Asian cities to live in, where it ranked third overall.