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Manila among world's most stressful cities, says 2021 study
In the study by German wellbeing brand VAAY that surveyed 100 cities, Manila placed 98th overall with total points of 29.4 out of 100. Manila lagged behind neighboring countries Singapore (33), Hanoi (70), Taipei (71), Hong Kong (74), Kuala Lumpur (76), Bangkok (87), and Jakarta (92).
The STAR/Miguel De Guzman

Manila among world's most stressful cities, says 2021 study

Kathleen A. Llemit (Philstar.com) - June 23, 2021 - 1:33pm

MANILA, Philippines — Manila's traffic congestion (3.3 out of 100) and unemployment rate (8.8 percent) are among the factors that contributed to the capital's bottom standing at the 100 Least and Most Stressful Cities for 2021.

In the study by German wellbeing brand VAAY that surveyed 100 cities' wellbeing, Manila placed 98th overall with total points of 29.4 out of 100. Manila lagged behind neighboring countries Singapore (33), Hanoi (70), Taipei (71), Hong Kong (74), Kuala Lumpur (76), Bangkok (87) and Jakarta (92).

Wealthy European cities Reykjavik in Iceland, Bern in Switzerland, and Helsinki in Finland were the top three least stressful cities to live in. Reykjavik scored a perfect 100.

Wellington in New Zealand and Melbourne in Australia followed at fourth and fifth spots, respectively.

The study was conducted by the Berlin-based CBD- and hemp-based lifestyle brand in line with its goal of promoting inner balance and mindfulness in a community.

"We carried out some research to determine the most and least stressful cities in the world, based on structural and environmental factors that are often ubiquitous, but sometimes overlooked, and can contribute to a person’s overall level of stress. The result is an index of 100 major global cities comprising over 15 factors, each ranked on a scale from most to least stressful. We hope to show which cities are leading the way in improving the wellbeing of their citizens and can be a source of inspiration to those cities lagging behind," read the note on the site's page.

VAAY stressed that the cities included in the list are not necessarily the most and least stressful cities in the world. They were chosen for their "global comparability."

The study considered 15 macro factors that contribute to stress and was narrowed down to four broad categories of governance, health, city and finance.

Governance scores included safety & security, socio-political stability, gender equality and minority equality.

VAAY said the governance category represents "societal frameworks which are shaped by policy decisions and local laws, all of which can impact a person’s mindset."

Manila scored low at 29.8 for safety & security and 38.1 for socio-political stability out of 100. Interestingly, the capital city fared better in its gender equality (74.3) and minority equality (65.4) scores.

The broader City category is subdivided into six factors: density (persons per square kilometer), traffic congestion, weather, air pollution, noise pollution and light pollution.

The study considered the effect of the physical environment because it said it has been "proven" that high living density "contributes to anxiety and stress."

Manila is heavily populated with a density of 20,784 persons per square kilometers as compared to the top least stressful countries in the list that tallied less than 500 persons per square kilometers.

Unemployment rate, financial stress and social security were factors considered under the finance category. Mental health, access to healthcare and COVID response stress impact were tallied under the health category.

Manila's financial indexes are financial stress (49.3) and social security (51.2) out of 100. Healthcare concerns are high especially amid a pandemic.

Manila's health scores are as follows:

  • mental health (94.9)
  • COVID response stress impact (85.6)
  • access to healthcare (42.4)

The study referred to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation's measurement on mental health. It said that a higher score "indicates a lower prevalence of mental health disorders, contributing positively to the total score."

A higher access to healthcare score indicates "a better healthcare system and a less stressful city," according to several sources such as the European Commission and the World Health Organization.

A high score of the Covid Response Stress Impact indicates a response with a lower stress impact, citing a University of Oxford data.

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