Vietnam’s capital ranked 70th spot in the Most Stressful Cities Index 2021 released recently. But it turns out, Hanoi is less stressful than other Asian cities like Taiwan’s Taipei (71), Malaysia’s Kuala Lumpur (76), and Thailand’s Bangkok (87).
In a recent study conducted by VAAY, a Berlin-based CBD and wellness organization, major cities all over the world were assessed to determine the most and least stressful, based on structural and environmental factors such as traffic congestions, financial stress, COVID-19 response stress impact among others that 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.
There were four categories involved in measuring a city’s “stressful level” — Governance, City, Finance, and Health.
“The first category looks at governmental factors that dictate levels of inclusion in a city, such as safety and security, gender and minority equality, and socio-political stability. These elements represent societal frameworks which are shaped by policy decisions and local laws, all of which can impact a person’s mindset,” reads the VAAY index report.
Following Governance, they considered the effect of the physical environment around us, since it has been proven that high living density contributes to anxiety and stress. VAAY did so by assessing population density, as well as pollution levels, weather patterns, and the amount of traffic congestion in each city. Which is something Hanoi must worry about.
As to money talks, to evaluate the impact of financial stress, they looked at unemployment rates, social security structures, and the amount of disposable income a household has after-tax and accommodation costs, adjusted for purchasing power parity, amongst other factors. Finally, VAAY considered health and wellbeing, specifically looking at mental health and access to healthcare as influences on stress levels.
Vietnam’s entry scored high in Mental Health (95.2) which indicates a lower prevalence of mental health disorders, contributing positively to the total score. Singapore on the other hand scored 100. Additionally, Hanoi scored higher (97.5) than Singapore (93.0) in terms of Financial Stress — the higher the score, the lower the level of financial stress.
An assessment of each government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, looking at investments in healthcare, support for the local economy, and the degree of social liberty the country has been able to maintain since January 2020, calculated as a score. The outcome of this response was also considered by including COVID-19 case rates and deaths per capita. A higher score indicates a response with a lower stress impact, contributing positively to the total score. In this, Hanoi scored 76.8.
As for the negative, Hanoi ranked 7th (scored 814) in the Density category which means the higher the score, the more stressful the city and contributes negatively to the total score. The highest was Mumbai, with 4,764.
Now about Traffic Congestion, Hanoi scored 70.7, a higher score indicates less traffic congestion and a less stressful city. Abu Dhabi topped scoring 100.
Overall, the top five less stressful countries are:
1. Reykjavik, Iceland
2. Bern, Switzerland
3. Helsinki, Finland
4. Wellington, New Zealand
5. Melbourne, Australia
And those at the bottom, the most stressful countries are:
96. Baghdad, Iraq
97. New Delhi, India
98. Manila, Philippines
99. Lagos, Nigeria
100. Mumbai, India
With the global pandemic, though some countries don’t feel it anymore, there's no doubt that we live in stressful times. The best thing we could do is carry on and make the most of what the government, our jobs, the people around us can provide to us, and aim a little higher each time.