Cities Journal

Stress Kills In These American Cities


It can give you the heart and the scalp of Homer Simpson. It can do to your immune system what the U.S. basketball team is doing to its opponents at the Rio Olympic Games. It can riddle your body with all kinds of disorders and syndromes, and it can even increase your risk of developing cancer.

No, we are not talking about working in a Soviet-era nuclear power plant or volunteering as an X-ray machine guinea pig. We are talking about being exposed to something that’s pretty common in today’s world – stress.

All of the aforementioned has been associated with chronic stress and it goes without saying that these are things all of us would like to avoid, if possible.

It is also no secret that some cities are just built to stress people out with their traffic jams, crowds of people, poor infrastructure and everything else that might cause one to go slightly mad. If those cities also happen to be struggling economically, you got yourself the perfect stress-inducing combo that can turn the most Zen of people into nervous wrecks.

The folks from WalletHub wanted to identify these high-risk cities and they did comprehensive research to do so. They used no less than 27 different metrics across 5 major categories and compared 150 of the biggest cities in the U.S..

They came up with the following rankings: Work-Related Stress, Money-Related Stress, Family-Related Stress, Health & Safety-Related Stress, Coping with Stress.

The final ranking of the American cities had Detroit, Michigan topping the list. The city came in first in the Family-Related Stress ranking, second in Coping with Stress,  seventh in Health & Safety-Related Stress, 10th in Work-Related Stress and 14th in Money-Related Stress. The Motor City earned a total score of 68.27, almost 7 full points more than the next city on the list. Among other things, it topped the Lowest Credit Score and Highest Poverty Rate lists.

Mobile, Alabama came in second overall. This Southern city topped the Health & Safety-Related Stress ranking while it also came in fourth for Work-Related Stress. The factor that “killed” Mobile was the fact it was the city with the highest percentage of adults in fair/poor health.

Birmingham, Alabama was named the third most stressful city in the country, ranking second in the both Money-Related Stress and the Health & Safety-Related Stress rankings. It seems Alabama is not easy on people’s health.

Memphis, Tennessee and Cleveland, Ohio were also in the top 5 most stressful cities, while Shreveport, Louisiana; Columbus, Georgia; New Orleans, Louisiana; Newark, New Jersey; and Montgomery, Alabama rounded off the Top 10.

If you go through the entire list, you will find that most of the parts of the country were distributed evenly on the list. That being said, we have to say that we did notice that Southern cities were more likely to be near the top of the list. For the most part, this has to do with the fact that the economy has not yet recovered in many Southern cities and also because the residents there are more likely to be of poor overall health.

The surprises are the relatively low positions of Los Angeles and New York City which ranked 57th and 63rd respectively. San Francisco was at the very bottom of the list, at the 145th spot. Other major cities that turned out to be less stressful than we imagined were Charlotte at No. 101, Boston at No. 100 and Pittsburgh at No. 76.

The least stressful cities in the country, according to the people from WalletHub at least, are Freemont, California; Irvine, California; Honolulu, Hawaii;Madison, Wisconsin; and San Jose, California.

If you wish to find out what the rest of the list looks like or if you want to see exactly what it was that went into collating the list, make sure to check it out here.

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