Does a City’s Population Size Impact its Quality of Life?
City living isn’t everyone’s cup of tea—the world’s most populous cities especially can be hectic, noisy, and busy.
Yet, despite the chaos of urban life, cities offer inhabitants a number of comforts and conveniences that are harder to find in smaller towns. That’s why more people are moving into urban areas around the world.
But do these conveniences reflect in people’s quality of lives?
According to research compiled by Elaine Siu, bigger doesn’t always mean better—at least when it comes to population size. This interactive visualization takes a deep dive into this dataset.
Measuring Quality of Life
Siu uses data from Numbeo’s 2022 Quality of Life Index to compare the quality of life in nearly 200 different cities around the world. For the purposes of this research, Siu used cities with metropolitan area populations of over 500,000.
The index measures quality of life using eight different metrics:
- Cost of Living
- Purchasing Power
- Property Price to Income Ratio
- Traffic Commute Time
A majority of the metrics (six of the eight) seemed to correlate with population size, suggesting that the bigger a city’s population is, the lower its quality of life in those metrics.
Here’s a look at the full list of cities included in the study, along with their overall quality of life scores and their metro area populations:
|City||Quality of Life Index||Metro Area Population|
|The Hague (Den Haag), Netherlands||204.88||709,388|
|Charlotte, NC, United States||194.31||2,701,046|
|Seattle, WA, United States||194.3||4,018,762|
|Oklahoma City, OK, United States||192.79||1,441,647|
|Austin, TX, United States||192.56||2,352,426|
|Quebec City, Canada||192.11||837,814|
|Columbus, OH, United States||191.34||2,151,017|
|San Diego, CA, United States||188.18||3,286,069|
|San Antonio, TX, United States||188.14||2,601,788|
|San Jose, CA, United States||187.16||1,952,185|
|Edinburgh, United Kingdom||185.01||548,206|
|Kansas City, MO, United States||181.28||2,199,490|
|Albuquerque, NM, United States||181.09||918,259|
|Glasgow, United Kingdom||179.79||1,688,907|
|Dubai, United Arab Emirates||178.96||2,964,382|
|Portland, OR, United States||176.92||2,511,612|
|Dallas, TX, United States||175.71||7,759,615|
|Jacksonville, FL, United States||175.25||1,637,666|
|Boston, MA, United States||174.52||4,899,932|
|Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates||173.13||1,539,830|
|Milwaukee, WI, United States||171.44||1,566,487|
|Indianapolis, IN, United States||171.2||2,126,804|
|Houston, TX, United States||170.9||7,206,841|
|Tucson, AZ, United States||168.76||1,052,030|
|Denver, CO, United States||167.36||2,972,566|
|Nashville, TN, United States||164.87||2,012,476|
|Bristol, United Kingdom||164.74||700,630|
|Atlanta, GA, United States||163.99||6,144,050|
|Sacramento, CA, United States||163.54||2,411,428|
|Washington, DC, United States||162.88||6,356,434|
|Auckland, New Zealand||161||1,652,341|
|Baltimore, MD, United States||160.36||2,838,327|
|Belfast, United Kingdom||159.26||638,717|
|Prague, Czech Republic||158.87||1,318,085|
|San Francisco, CA, United States||157.57||4,623,264|
|Philadelphia, PA, United States||154.13||6,228,601|
|Phoenix, AZ, United States||151.95||4,946,145|
|Riyadh, Saudi Arabia||150.72||7,538,200|
|Birmingham, United Kingdom||149.32||2,645,598|
|Las Vegas, NV, United States||148.17||2,292,476|
|Tel Aviv-Yafo, Israel||147.84||4,343,584|
|Manchester, United Kingdom||147.47||2,770,434|
|Cape Town, South Africa||145.05||4,800,954|
|Chicago, IL, United States||144.81||9,509,934|
|Jeddah (Jiddah), Saudi Arabia||144.4||4,780,740|
|Los Angeles, CA, United States||139.75||12,997,353|
|Nizhny Novgorod, Russia||139.25||1,252,917|
|Durban, South Africa||139.09||3,199,329|
|New York, NY, United States||137.32||19,768,458|
|Pretoria, South Africa||133.25||2,739,768|
|Detroit, MI, United States||133.05||4,365,205|
|Johannesburg, South Africa||132.58||6,065,354|
|Chiang Mai, Thailand||127.81||1,197,931|
|Sharjah, United Arab Emirates||127.77||1,785,684|
|London, United Kingdom||126.14||9,540,576|
|Seoul, South Korea||125.66||9,975,709|
|Krakow (Cracow), Poland||123.44||769,595|
|San Juan, Puerto Rico||118.97||2,442,512|
|Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia||117.7||8,419,566|
|Kuwait City, Kuwait||116.64||3,238,523|
|San Jose, Costa Rica||115.02||1,441,324|
|Panama City, Panama||110.94||1,937,963|
|Porto Alegre, Brazil||107.74||4,185,488|
|Belo Horizonte, Brazil||107.2||6,194,292|
|Kiev (Kyiv), Ukraine||106.88||3,010,209|
|Odessa (Odesa), Ukraine||106.41||1,007,989|
|Hong Kong, Hong Kong||103.85||7,643,256|
|Skopje, North Macedonia||101.02||605,996|
|Buenos Aires, Argentina||99.23||15,369,919|
|Saint Petersburg, Russia||97.91||5,535,556|
|Guatemala City, Guatemala||95.46||3,036,405|
|Mexico City, Mexico||85.94||22,085,140|
|Sao Paulo, Brazil||78.54||22,429,800|
|Rio de Janeiro, Brazil||70.28||13,634,274|
|Colombo, Sri Lanka||66.85||625,637|
|Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam||66.41||9,077,158|
It’s worth noting that the negative correlation between the quality of life and population size only appeared in cities above the median population of 2.4 million people, indicating that the size of a city doesn’t appear to impact quality of life until a certain tipping point. Then, above the median, there’s a blatant downward trend.
However, Tokyo is an anomaly—its quality of life is much higher than it’s metropolitan population would predict.
Zooming in on Tokyo
Despite being the world’s largest urban area, Tokyo compares favorably compared to other top megacities across the index. When ranked among the top five megacities, it places in first for Purchasing Power, Safety, Traffic Commute Time, Cost of Living, Healthcare, and Pollution.
What’s so special about Tokyo? One major thing going for the Japanese city is its immaculate public transport system. The city’s transport is so efficient, the city’s rail service once issued a public apology after a train left the station 25 seconds earlier than its scheduled departure.
Another factor that makes Tokyo so livable is its relatively affordable housing, at least compared to other big cities like New York and Hong Kong. This is partly because of the city’s flexible land zoning system, which makes it relatively easy for developers to build housing and mix-use communities.
As our world becomes increasingly more urbanized, and cities around the world continue to increase in size, will they be able to emulate Tokyo’s growth? And if not, what other city design trends and innovations can cities utilize to raise quality of live?
This article was published as a part of Visual Capitalist's Creator Program, which features data-driven visuals from some of our favorite Creators around the world.
Charted: The World’s Biggest Oil Producers
Just three countries—the U.S., Saudi Arabia and Russia—make up the lion’s share of global oil supply. Here are the biggest oil producers in 2022.
Charted: The World’s Biggest Oil Producers in 2022
In 2022 oil prices peaked at more than $100 per barrel, hitting an eight-year high, after a full year of turmoil in the energy markets in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Oil companies doubled their profits and the economies of the biggest oil producers in the world got a major boost.
But which countries are responsible for most of the world’s oil supply? Using data from the Statistical Review of World Energy by the Energy Institute, we’ve visualized and ranked the world’s biggest oil producers.
Ranked: Oil Production By Country, in 2022
The U.S. has been the world’s biggest oil producer since 2018 and continued its dominance in 2022 by producing close to 18 million barrels per day (B/D). This accounted for nearly one-fifth of the world’s oil supply.
Almost three-fourths of the country’s oil production is centered around five states: Texas, New Mexico, North Dakota, Alaska, and Colorado.
We rank the other major oil producers in the world below.
|YoY Change||Share of
|2||🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia||12,136||+10.8%||12.9%|
|36||🇸🇸 South Sudan||141||-7.6%||0.2%|
|51||Other Middle East||210||+1.2%||0.2%|
|54||Other Asia Pacific||177||-10.6%||0.2%|
|55||Other S. &|
Behind America’s considerable lead in oil production, Saudi Arabia (ranked 2nd) produced 12 million B/D, accounting for about 13% of global supply.
Russia came in third with 11 million B/D in 2022. Together, these top three oil producing behemoths, along with Canada (4th) and Iraq (5th), make up more than half of the entire world’s oil supply.
Meanwhile, the top 10 oil producers, including those ranked 6th to 10th—China, UAE, Iran, Brazil, and Kuwait—are responsible for more than 70% of the world’s oil production.
Notably, all top 10 oil giants increased their production between 2021–2022, and as a result, global output rose 4.2% year-on-year.
Major Oil Producing Regions in 2022
The Middle East accounts for one-third of global oil production and North America makes up almost another one-third of production. The Commonwealth of Independent States—an organization of post-Soviet Union countries—is another major regional producer of oil, with a 15% share of world production.
|YoY Change||Share of
|South & Central|
What’s starkly apparent in the data however is Europe’s declining share of oil production, now at 3% of the world’s supply. In the last 20 years the EU’s oil output has dropped by more than 50% due to a variety of factors, including stricter environmental regulations and a shift to natural gas.
Another lens to look at regional production is through OPEC members, which control about 35% of the world’s oil output and about 70% of the world’s oil reserves.
When taking into account the group of 10 oil exporting countries OPEC has relationships with, known as OPEC+, the share of oil production increases to more than half of the world’s supply.
Oil’s Big Balancing Act
Since it’s the very lifeblood of the modern economy, the countries that control significant amounts of oil production also reap immense political and economic benefits. Entire regions have been catapulted into prosperity and wars have been fought over the control of the resource.
At the same time, the ongoing effort to pivot to renewable energy is pushing many major oil exporters to diversify their economies. A notable example is Saudi Arabia, whose sovereign wealth fund has invested in companies like Uber and WeWork.
However, the world still needs oil, as it supplies nearly one-third of global energy demand.
Money2 weeks ago
Visualized: How Long Does it Take to Double Your Money?
Markets4 days ago
Charted: What are Retail Investors Interested in Buying in 2023?
Misc4 weeks ago
Ranked: The World’s Largest Stadiums
Maps2 weeks ago
The Incredible Historical Map That Changed Cartography
Markets3 days ago
The $109 Trillion Global Stock Market in One Chart
Markets4 weeks ago
Charted: Six Red Flags Pointing to China’s Economy Slowing Down
VC+2 weeks ago
What’s New on VC+ in September
Real Estate1 day ago
Ranked: 15 of the World’s Least Affordable Housing Markets