Metropolitan city ranking 2023: People happiest in Hamburg - unhappiest in Leipzig

Study led by Freiburg economist Bernd Raffelhüschen examines 12 major metropolitan cities as part of "SKL Glücksatlas" ("SKL Happiness Atlas")

The happiest city dwellers in Germany live in Hamburg. This is the result of the study "SKL Großstädteranking 2023" ("SKL Metropolitan city ranking 2023") led by the economist Bernd Raffelhüschen from the Faculty of Economics and Behavioural Sciences at the University of Freiburg, which was published as part of the SKL Happiness Report. For the ranking, the German-speaking resident population in 12 major cities ÜBerlin, Hamburg, Munich, Cologne, Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Düsseldorf, Leipzig, Dresden, Hanover, Bremen, Essen) with online access and an age between 16-74 years was representatively surveyed regarding their life satisfaction. The reasons for satisfaction were also surveyed. The survey took place between March 30 and April 24, 2023. The Happiness Report has been around since 2011, and the Süddeutsche Klassenlotterie (SKL) has been a partner of the study since 2022.

First place in the city ranking in the category of general life satisfaction goes to Hamburg with 7.16 points (on a scale of 0 to 10 points), followed by Frankfurt am Main (7.07 points) and third-place (6.9 points). These three cities achieve above-average personal happiness scores as well as very good levels of satisfaction with urban features such as the business location. "Overall, it can be seen that the level of income, personal health, the sense of belonging among citizens and the work of public administration are particularly important for the satisfaction of citizens with their city," says Bernd Raffelhüschen.

follows in fourth place with 6.88 points. The Berliners surveyed show a high level of satisfaction with their lives, income and working life, but are dissatisfied with the city’s services, especially with the administration. Hanover landed in the middle (6.75 points) in fifth place. Hanoverians are moderately satisfied with family and health, but rate urban areas such as transport and administration positively. In sixth place Düsseldorf (6.69 points), there is a high level of satisfaction with income and the business location, while there is dissatisfaction with the transportation infrastructure.

The bottom half of the ranking combines rather weaker economic data (exception: ) with general dissatisfaction with traffic, security and also public administration. In Cologne (seventh place, 6.65 points), Essen (eighth place, 6.63 points) and Bremen (tenth place, 6.5 points), unemployment figures such as underemployment or the SGBII rate are also rather high. The last two places, Leipzig (twelfth place, 6.44 points) and Dresden (eleventh place, 6.49 points), both have somewhat older populations and comparatively weak economic figures. Dresdeners tend to be dissatisfied with their personal lives but enthusiastic about their city. receives a weak ninth place (6.54 points). What stands out here is the high dissatisfaction with the sense of belonging.

Business location plays a role

Top performer Hamburg also scores particularly well in the business location category. The gross domestic product per capita there is 64,000 euros, Leipzig 38,000 euros. These differences are also reflected in satisfaction with income, which is high in Hamburg and low in Leipzig. Hamburgers rate the attractiveness of their city as a business location with the top score of 7.0 points. The Leipzigers give their business location only an average of 6.55 points. However, the equation "income equals satisfaction" does not apply without restriction. There are also exceptions: Although Düsseldorf (sixth place) and Stuttgart (ninth place) are prosperous, they are only moderately satisfied. Among other things, the reasons stem from inadequate city policies, as the ratings of public administration show. In general, the city administration is rated the worst of all areas by citizens, while cultural and recreational opportunities are rated the best.

A sense of belonging plays a role

A sense of belonging is another important factor for urban satisfaction. It is felt all the more strongly when citizens can move around their city in a safe and relaxed manner, when the neighbourhood functions well and when people enjoy volunteering in clubs, in the community or at city festivals. It tends to be the case that cities (such as Leipzig, Berlin, Bremen, Essen) whose citizens are dissatisfied with the sense of belonging are also dissatisfied with the administration and the security situation in their city. However, satisfaction with the city administration also depends on the cities’ tax power and material investments. The wealthier a city, such as Frankfurt, Hamburg or Munich , the more likely it is to invest in hospitals, schools and roads.

In general, the researchers conclude: The more satisfied a city is, the more optimistic its citizens are about the future. And if citizens are satisfied with their own lives, they also rate their satisfaction with the city positively.