The Cities with the Best Work-Life Balance 2022 uses data to identify the best cities for work-life balance based on Work Intensity, Society and Institutions, and City Liveability. The study considers over 130 data points covering a range of indicators to highlight the most and least overworked cities around the world.
City SelectionThe city selection consists of 51 US cities, as well as 49 global cities that were shortlisted for analysis as global economic hubs.
Data CollectionThe data for this study was sourced from international organisations, NGO reports, open access datasets, public surveys and crowdsourcing platforms. Significant outliers and missing data at city level were inferred from national statistics.
Factors and Scoring
The study was divided into three categories: Work Intensity, Society and Institutions, and City Liveability.
Work Intensity: Remote Jobs (%), Overworked Population (%), Minimum Vacations Offered (Days), Vacations Taken (Days), Unemployment (Score), Multiple Jobholders (%), Inflation (%), Paid Parental Leave (Days).
Society and Institutions: Covid Impact (Score), Covid Support (Score), Healthcare (Score), Access to Mental Healthcare (Score), Inclusivity & Tolerance (Score).
City Livability: Affordability (Score), Happiness, Culture & Leisure (Score), City Safety (Score), Outdoor Spaces (Score), Air Quality (Score), Wellness and Fitness (Score).
Multiple indicators were used as components when scoring each
factor. The underlying indicators were first standardised using a
Z-Score [z = (x-μ)/σ; μ=indicator mean; σ=indicator standard
normalisation procedure. The final score was computed as a weighted
average of the component Z-Scores, and the resulting score
normalised to a scale of 50 to 100 using min-max normalisation
[(value - min)/(max-min)*50+50]. The floor of 50 for
the scale was chosen to emphasise that the minimum score does not
imply the absence of the infrastructures under analysis, as the
position is relative to that of other cities in the ranking.
Below you can find a detailed description of each factor within the study and the sources used:
Remote Jobs (%)
The percentage of jobs that can be performed remotely in each
city, and the feasibility of working at home for all occupations.
A higher percentage reflects a city with a higher number of remote
job opportunities and a better infrastructure to support working
Sources: Journal of Public Economics; World Bank.
Overworked Population (%)
The percentage of full-time employees working more than 48 hours per
working week in each city. A higher percentage reflects a city with
a greater amount of its population working overtime.
Sources: Eurostat; US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Minimum Vacations Offered (Days)
The minimum number of compensated vacation days an employee is
legally entitled to after at least one year of service. Data was
taken at a national level for a full-time, five-day workweek
(excluding public holidays). A higher score reflects a city with a
higher amount of vacation days offered to employees.
Sources: European Commission; International Labour Organisation (ILO); national labour departments; Thomson Reuters.
Vacations Taken (Days)
The average number of paid vacation days taken by full-time
employees in a single year.
Sources: proprietary survey data; UBS; US Travel Association.
A score that reflects the unemployment rate for the metropolitan
area or region in the first quarter of 2021. A higher score reflects
a city with a lower level of unemployment.
Sources: Official local statistics.
Multiple Jobholders (%)
The percentage of employed people in each city holding more than one
job at a time.
Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics; Eurostat; local employment statistics; United Nations; World Bank.
The rate of price inflation for a range of consumer goods and
services including food, beverages, clothing, housing, water,
electricity, gas, furnishing, health, transport, communication,
recreation, restaurants and hotels. The study compared the index
values from the start of the pandemic (using an average of the
months January and February 2020) with the index values from the
most recent available data to show the percentage change. The study
used state-level data for the US and country-level data for the rest
of the world.
Sources: IMF; BLS.
Paid Parental Leave (Days)
The number of paid family leave days afforded to employees by law in
Sources: ILO; OECD; official local government websites; Thomson Reuters.
Society and Institutions
Covid Impact (Score)
A score that reflects the social and economic impact of a location’s
Covid response, split across three areas: public health, economic,
and social. The public health impact is quantified through cases and
deaths relative to population; the economic impact through
year-on-year GDP growth in 2020 and 2021; and the social impact
through the severity of limiting measures put in place to contain
the pandemic, and changes in mobility patterns as an indicator of
the effect of these restrictions. A higher score reflects a more
mitigated impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Sources: Oxford COVID-19 Government Response Tracker; International Monetary Fund; Apple – Covid-19 Mobility Trends Reports.
Covid Support (Score)
A score that reflects the income support provided by governments to
workers affected by the economic effects of Covid. The score takes
into account government programmes to replace income lost due to
Covid, duration of unemployment benefits, consumer confidence,
household spending and general wage levels, as well as overall
government spending to lessen the economic impact of Covid. In
addition, the number of Covid cases and deaths were taken into
Sources: Nature Human Behaviour; IMF; OECD; ILO; Worldometers.
A score that rates a city’s healthcare system based on
accessibility, quality of care and satisfaction. Country-level data
was obtained from the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) index for
access and quality indicators, while US cities data incorporates
state-level data from the Health Access and Quality (HAQ) study.
Additional data was taken from healthcare access indexes developed
by the World Health Organisation and the European Commission.
Satisfaction survey results were taken at a city level. A higher
score reflects greater accessibility, quality of care and user
rating for each city's healthcare infrastructure. city level.
Sources: The Lancet; European Commission; WHO.
Access to Mental Healthcare (Score)
A score that reflects the accessibility and effectiveness of
governments’ implementation of mental health policies catering for
individuals with mental health illnesses. This factor uses national
data on governance, access to treatment and the environment
necessary for treatment. It also incorporates suicide rates and
city-level survey data on healthcare quality. A higher score
reflects a more effective and accessible mental healthcare network.
Sources: EIU; Institute for Health and Metrics Evaluation; WHO; Mental Health America; Dartmouth Institute; WHO; local statistics departments.
Inclusivity & Tolerance (Score)
A score that reflects the combined scores of the ‘Gender Equality’ (degree of gender parity), as well as the ‘LGBT+’ (inclusiveness and tolerance) factors, as detailed below:
The score was developed using data on the level of disparity in
economic opportunity and participation, educational attainment,
health and political empowerment between genders. City-level data
was collected for US cities, with country-level data obtained for
non-US cities. A higher score reflects greater gender equality.
Sources: Economist; World Economic Forum; Council on Foreign Relations; OECD.
The score examines the extent of equality and protection with an
emphasis on employment rights, legislation, access to healthcare, as
well as political representation for the LGBT+ community. The
percentage of the population identifying as LGBT+ was also included,
as environments in which a higher number of citizens feel
comfortable openly identifying as a minority indicates a more
tolerant and supportive community. A higher score reflects a higher
degree of LGBT+ equality.
Sources: Spartacus; Gallup; local statistics departments.
A score that reflects monthly living costs as a proportion of the
average household income after tax. Monthly costs include rent,
basic utilities costs, groceries, internet connection, leisure
activities, clothes and dining out. A higher score indicates a
higher level of remaining monthly income after accounting for
Happiness, Culture & Leisure (Score)
The combined scores of both the ‘Happiness’ and ‘Culture & Leisure’ factors, as detailed below:
The score includes the average perceived level of happiness at a
city level. In the rare absence of city-level data, national data
was used. The score is calculated from survey responses evaluating
the perceived happiness with one’s own life, as well as the degree
of positive and negative effects a respondent experiences. A
higher score reflects higher degrees of self-perceived happiness.
Sources: Sustainable Development Solutions Network; Wallethub.
Culture & Leisure
The score indicates the vibrancy and variety of cultural and
lifestyle offerings in a city. It combines cultural city rankings,
the number of people employed in the cultural and creative
industries, and the number of leisure facilities and activities
available per capita, including sports stadiums, restaurants, parks,
shops, entertainment and nightlife venues. Cities with an
exceptional number of activities were given supplementary points. A
higher score reflects a greater cultural and leisure activities
Sources: US Bureau of Economic Analysis; European Commission; TimeOut; Wallethub; OSM; TripAdvisor.
City Safety (Score)
The degree of a city’s safety in more than a dozen key areas,
including environmental, social and infrastructural security.
Indicators include statistics on injuries and fatalities, damage
caused at an economic level, public opinion data, and data on the
vulnerability of a location to particular hazards. A higher score
reflects a safer city.
Sources: Germanwatch; United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime; Economist Intelligence Unit; European Commission; Disaster Risk Management Knowledge Centre; Igarape Institute; Vision of Humanity; WHO.
Outdoor Spaces (Score)
The prevalence and accessibility of a city’s urban green
infrastructure as a score, including its proximity to residents and
the percentage of land allocated to green space. Data on weather and
daylight conditions that could affect the use of public outdoor
spaces was also incorporated. This includes average temperatures,
the annual number of rainy days, annual sunshine hours, and
Significant weighting is placed on the green spaces indicator, as the existence of favourable weather alone is not a condition for a good score in this section. Data was collected at a city level. A higher score reflects a greater urban green infrastructure, as well as better environmental conditions for outdoor life.
Sources: United States Forest Service; The Trust for Public Land; OECD; European Environmental Agency; WeatherSpark.
Air Quality (Score)
Annual median particulate matter (PM2.5/PM10) pollution for the year
2022, represented as a score. Daily average data was taken across
all days of a single year, with the median pollution level
representing the overall score. Data was taken at a city level. A
higher score reflects greater air quality.
Sources: AQICN; WHO; Plume Labs.
Wellness and Fitness (Score)
The general state of a community’s physical fitness and health as
represented by the population’s average life expectancy, as well as
levels of inactivity, obesity, and the number of fitness studios and
gyms per capita. National data was used for life expectancy at
birth, while US cities use city-level data. Adult obesity rates and
the prevalence of physical inactivity were taken at a national
level, with US cities using state level data. Data on the number of
gyms per capita is taken at a city level. A higher score reflects a
better state of a community’s physical fitness and health.
Sources: WHO; US Center for Disease Control and Prevention; Opportunity Insights; The State of Childhood Obesity; OSM Overpass Turbo API.