Cities are, and arguably have always been, the engines of growth. Now there's growing interest in how well they satisfy the needs of their residents as well as those of the wider economy.

The EU statistics body Eurostat produces a quality of life survey that covers 79 European cities and has produced these five maps that reveal big differences in satisfaction ratings.

Health

This map shows the proportion of people who are satisfied with healthcare services, doctors and hospitals in their city.

The majority of respondents in most northern and central European cities – shown here in blue dots – were generally satisfied.

Those happiest with healthcare live in Zurich in Switzerland (97%), while residents of Antwerp in Belgium, Groningen in the Netherlands and Graz in Austria are almost as satisfied (93%).

However, in 16 cities the satisfaction rate was below 50%. The lowest level of satisfaction was recorded in Greece’s capital city Athens (32%), while seven other capitals – Warsaw, Budapest, Bucharest, Riga, Bratislava, Rome and Sofia – reported satisfaction rates lower than 50% (shown here in red and orange dots).

 Satisfaction with infrastructure and services in European cities
Image: Eurostat

Education and training

People’s satisfaction with education and training was higher than their satisfaction with healthcare.

Satisfaction with schools and other educational facilities peaked at 88% in the western French city of Rennes and the Dutch city of Groningen, while high satisfaction rates were also recorded in the northern Portuguese city of Braga (88%) as well as Antwerp in Belgium (86%).

There were only five cities where less than half the respondents were satisfied with their schools and other educational facilities. Those were Bucharest in Romania (48%), Sofia in Bulgaria (47%), Palermo in Italy (43%) and the Turkish cities of Diyarbakir (49%) and Istanbul (44%).

 Satisfaction with schools and education in European cities
Image: Eurostat

Trust

The third map looks at what level of trust people had in others.

Oulu in Finland and Aalborg in Denmark were the two cities in the EU with the highest proportions of residents feeling that they could trust most people in their city (92% and 91% respectively).

But there were 13 cities where the trust rating fell below 50%.

 Measuring trust across European cities
Image: Eurostat

Administrative services

A majority of respondents agreed that the administrative services in their city helped people, particularly those in Luxembourg (80%), Zurich (78%), Belfast in the United Kingdom (71%) and Aalborg in Denmark (70%).

At the other end of the range, the lowest percentages who felt that administrative services in their city helped people efficiently were in the Italian cities of Rome (27%), Naples (22%) and Palermo (19%). It was a different story further north, in the Italian cities of Bologna and Verona, where a majority of respondents agreed with the premise (56% and 60% respectively).

In the German city of Dortmund and the Portuguese capital of Lisbon, half (50%) of the population agreed with the premise.

 Admin satisfaction
Image: Eurostat

Overall satisfaction

The highest overall satisfaction rates – 99% – were recorded in Oslo (Norway) and Zürich (Switzerland). Within the EU, 97% or 98% was recorded in Aalborg (Denmark), Hamburg, Leipzig, München and Rostock (all in Germany), Malaga (Spain), Braga (Portugal), Belfast and Cardiff (both in the United Kingdom), as well as the three northern capitals of Copenhagen, Vilnius and Stockholm.

The lowest rates were recorded in the Turkish city of Istanbul at 65%, and within the EU, Palermo, 67%; Athens, 71%; and Naples; 75% (these were the only cities in the EU where no more than three quarters of the population were satisfied).

Overall, a relatively high proportion of the population was satisfied with their healthcare services, doctors and hospitals.

The level of satisfaction with schools and other educational facilities was lower. Only 17 cities reported that at least four fifths of their population was satisfied with these services.

In 16 out of the 79 cities surveyed, at least four fifths of the population felt that most people in their city could be trusted.

The lowest levels of satisfaction were seen with the administrative services. There was only one city, Luxembourg, where four fifths of population agreed that the administrative services in their city helped people efficiently.

 Overall satisfaction
Image: Eurostat

Capital cities

Capital cities often fared worse than other cities in the same country. For example, it was relatively common to find that the capital city had the lowest proportion of people who were satisfied with their healthcare services, doctors and hospitals.

When it came to education and training, capital cities recorded the lowest satisfaction rates for schools and other educational facilities in 16 of the 19 EU member states for which data was collected for multiple cities.

In addition, there were 13 cities in the EU where the share of respondents who felt they could trust most people fell to less than 50%. All but three of these were capital cities.