Special Report

Cities With the Best Work-Life Balance in the World

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The COVID-19 pandemic radically altered the workplace, inspiring employees who proved they were able to perform their jobs remotely to push back against return-to-office edicts by company leaders. In April, American banking giant JP Morgan Chase was forced to loosen its recently implemented order for workers to return to the office after receiving pushback from some employees.

Indeed, the availability of remote work has recently emerged as an important factor in work-life balance for employees in job categories conducive to working from a laptop or home office. 

Other factors contributing to a positive work-life balance include the number of paid vacation days; whether or not workers must have second jobs to cover their basic living expenses; the availability of work; and the amount of local culture and leisure activities. (This is how long the typical work week is around the world.)

To determine the 50 cities with the best work-life balance around the world, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the report Cities with the Best Work-Life Balance 2022 by Kisi, a cloud-based access control company. The report ranked 51 U.S. cities and 49 global cities for work-life balance based on 19 measures in three areas: work intensity, society and institutions, and city liveability. According to Kisi, the data was sourced from “international organizations, NGO reports, open access datasets, public surveys and crowdsourcing platforms. Significant outliers and missing data at city level were inferred from national statistics.” 

Considering the composition of cities reviewed, it may not be surprising to find 13 U.S. cities among the top 50 in the world, though none ranks better than 32nd place. The best-ranked U.S. city for work-life balance is Seattle, with an overall score of 88.38 out of 100. Next is Portland, Oregon, with a score of 88.2. Compared to European cities on the list, U.S. cities stand out in the few vacation days offered, few paid parental leave days offered, and lower health care scores.

Germany has nine cities on the list, all ranking 26th or better, including two in the top 10. Switzerland has three cities on the list, all in the top six. Canada has four cities on the list, all ranking 30th or better, including one in the top 10. Workers in the German and Swiss cities get at least 20 days vacation offered, among the most, while workers in Canadian and German cities get at least 364 days of paid parental leave. Swiss and Canadian cities also receive high health care scores.

Only two of these leading 50 cities for work-life balance are located in Asia: Tokyo and Singapore, the latter of which leads the world in the percentage of remote jobs, at 52%. (These are the countries doing the best job handling COVID.)

Workers in U.K. cities get at least 28 vacation days, the most among the cities on this list. Working parents in Helsinki receive 1,190 paid parental leave days, the most among the cities reviewed. Oslo leads the world in the quality and availability of health care, while Geneva and Bern, Switzerland, lead in overall happiness, culture, and leisure activities.

Here are the cities with the best work-life balance

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50. Barcelona, Spain
> Pct. of remote jobs: 31.7 — 2nd lowest
> Minimum vacation days: 22 — 12th highest
> Days of paid parental leave: 126.7 — 22nd lowest
> Health care score (out of 100): 97.0 — 11th highest
> Happiness, culture, and leisure score (out of 100): 79.8 — 6th lowest
> Total score: 84.9

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49. Sacramento, USA
> Pct. of remote jobs: 40.3 — 22nd highest
> Minimum vacation days: 10 — 19th lowest
> Days of paid parental leave: 117.0 — 18th lowest
> Health care score (out of 100): 88.0 — 6th lowest
> Happiness, culture, and leisure score (out of 100): 83.0 — 15th lowest
> Total score: 84.9

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48. Raleigh, USA
> Pct. of remote jobs: 41.3 — 20th highest
> Minimum vacation days: 10 — 19th lowest
> Days of paid parental leave: 0.0 — 9th lowest
> Health care score (out of 100): 88.7 — 9th lowest
> Happiness, culture, and leisure score (out of 100): 85.0 — 21st lowest
> Total score: 85.3

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47. Virginia Beach, USA
> Pct. of remote jobs: 34.6 — 3rd lowest
> Minimum vacation days: 10 — 19th lowest
> Days of paid parental leave: 0.0 — 9th lowest
> Health care score (out of 100): 87.9 — 4th lowest
> Happiness, culture, and leisure score (out of 100): 82.4 — 10th lowest
> Total score: 85.3

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46. Denver, USA
> Pct. of remote jobs: 42.6 — 14th highest
> Minimum vacation days: 10 — 19th lowest
> Days of paid parental leave: 0.0 — 9th lowest
> Health care score (out of 100): 88.1 — 7th lowest
> Happiness, culture, and leisure score (out of 100): 83.3 — 16th lowest
> Total score: 85.6

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45. Singapore
> Pct. of remote jobs: 52.1 — the highest
> Minimum vacation days: 7 — the lowest
> Days of paid parental leave: 119.0 — 19th lowest
> Health care score (out of 100): 93.6 — 18th lowest
> Happiness, culture, and leisure score (out of 100): 77.6 — 3rd lowest
> Total score: 85.7

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44. San Diego, USA
> Pct. of remote jobs: 39.5 — 23rd highest
> Minimum vacation days: 10 — 19th lowest
> Days of paid parental leave: 117.0 — 18th lowest
> Health care score (out of 100): 88.6 — 8th lowest
> Happiness, culture, and leisure score (out of 100): 86.5 — 20th highest
> Total score: 85.8

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43. Omaha, USA
> Pct. of remote jobs: 38.9 — 25th highest
> Minimum vacation days: 10 — 19th lowest
> Days of paid parental leave: 0.0 — 9th lowest
> Health care score (out of 100): 89.5 — 11th lowest
> Happiness, culture, and leisure score (out of 100): 82.9 — 14th lowest
> Total score: 86.0

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42. Madrid, Spain
> Pct. of remote jobs: 31.7 — 2nd lowest
> Minimum vacation days: 22 — 12th highest
> Days of paid parental leave: 126.7 — 22nd lowest
> Health care score (out of 100): 97.9 — 9th highest
> Happiness, culture, and leisure score (out of 100): 81.4 — 9th lowest
> Total score: 86.9

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41. Washington, D.C., USA
> Pct. of remote jobs: 49.8 — 2nd highest
> Minimum vacation days: 10 — 19th lowest
> Days of paid parental leave: 40.0 — 10th lowest
> Health care score (out of 100): 86.6 — 3rd lowest
> Happiness, culture, and leisure score (out of 100): 88.2 — 15th highest
> Total score: 87.1

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40. Brussels, Belgium
> Pct. of remote jobs: 42.3 — 15th highest
> Minimum vacation days: 20 — 14th highest
> Days of paid parental leave: 361.2 — 21st highest
> Health care score (out of 100): 94.4 — 22nd lowest
> Happiness, culture, and leisure score (out of 100): 77.3 — 2nd lowest
> Total score: 87.2

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39. San Francisco, USA
> Pct. of remote jobs: 44.8 — 6th highest
> Minimum vacation days: 10 — 19th lowest
> Days of paid parental leave: 117.0 — 18th lowest
> Health care score (out of 100): 86.5 — the lowest
> Happiness, culture, and leisure score (out of 100): 93.1 — 6th highest
> Total score: 87.3

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38. Boston, USA
> Pct. of remote jobs: 44.4 — 7th highest
> Minimum vacation days: 10 — 19th lowest
> Days of paid parental leave: 0.0 — 9th lowest
> Health care score (out of 100): 90.7 — 13th lowest
> Happiness, culture, and leisure score (out of 100): 86.3 — 22nd highest
> Total score: 87.6

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37. Dublin, Ireland
> Pct. of remote jobs: 38.7 — 23rd lowest
> Minimum vacation days: 20 — 14th highest
> Days of paid parental leave: 182.0 — 25th lowest
> Health care score (out of 100): 86.6 — 3rd lowest
> Happiness, culture, and leisure score (out of 100): 89.9 — 11th highest
> Total score: 87.6

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36. Salt Lake City, USA
> Pct. of remote jobs: 43.3 — 13th highest
> Minimum vacation days: 10 — 19th lowest
> Days of paid parental leave: 0.0 — 9th lowest
> Health care score (out of 100): 88.0 — 6th lowest
> Happiness, culture, and leisure score (out of 100): 84.4 — 18th lowest
> Total score: 87.8

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35. Minneapolis, USA
> Pct. of remote jobs: 41.1 — 21st highest
> Minimum vacation days: 10 — 19th lowest
> Days of paid parental leave: 0.0 — 9th lowest
> Health care score (out of 100): 91.6 — 14th lowest
> Happiness, culture, and leisure score (out of 100): 88.0 — 17th highest
> Total score: 88.1

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34. Vienna, Austria
> Pct. of remote jobs: 36.7 — 7th lowest
> Minimum vacation days: 25 — 5th highest
> Days of paid parental leave: 480.9 — 6th highest
> Health care score (out of 100): 93.8 — 20th lowest
> Happiness, culture, and leisure score (out of 100): 83.7 — 17th lowest
> Total score: 88.2

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33. Portland (OR), USA
> Pct. of remote jobs: 38.5 — 22nd lowest
> Minimum vacation days: 10 — 19th lowest
> Days of paid parental leave: 0.0 — 9th lowest
> Health care score (out of 100): 89.3 — 10th lowest
> Happiness, culture, and leisure score (out of 100): 86.4 — 21st highest
> Total score: 88.2

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32. Seattle, USA
> Pct. of remote jobs: 42.3 — 16th highest
> Minimum vacation days: 10 — 19th lowest
> Days of paid parental leave: 0.0 — 9th lowest
> Health care score (out of 100): 89.9 — 12th lowest
> Happiness, culture, and leisure score (out of 100): 90.7 — 9th highest
> Total score: 88.4

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31. Manchester, England
> Pct. of remote jobs: 43.5 — 9th highest
> Minimum vacation days: 28 — the highest
> Days of paid parental leave: 287.0 — 22nd highest
> Health care score (out of 100): 95.5 — 19th highest
> Happiness, culture, and leisure score (out of 100): 82.7 — 13th lowest
> Total score: 89.1

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30. Calgary, Canada
> Pct. of remote jobs: 37.8 — 21st lowest
> Minimum vacation days: 10 — 19th lowest
> Days of paid parental leave: 364.0 — 16th highest
> Health care score (out of 100): 97.0 — 11th highest
> Happiness, culture, and leisure score (out of 100): 78.7 — 4th lowest
> Total score: 89.4

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29. Graz, Austria
> Pct. of remote jobs: 36.7 — 7th lowest
> Minimum vacation days: 25 — 5th highest
> Days of paid parental leave: 70.0 — 11th lowest
> Health care score (out of 100): 93.4 — 17th lowest
> Happiness, culture, and leisure score (out of 100): 89.4 — 13th highest
> Total score: 89.4

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28. Paris, France
> Pct. of remote jobs: 37.7 — 17th lowest
> Minimum vacation days: 25 — 5th highest
> Days of paid parental leave: 490.0 — 4th highest
> Health care score (out of 100): 95.9 — 17th highest
> Happiness, culture, and leisure score (out of 100): 84.9 — 20th lowest
> Total score: 89.7

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27. London, England
> Pct. of remote jobs: 43.5 — 9th highest
> Minimum vacation days: 28 — the highest
> Days of paid parental leave: 287.0 — 22nd highest
> Health care score (out of 100): 94.6 — 23rd lowest
> Happiness, culture, and leisure score (out of 100): 89.5 — 12th highest
> Total score: 89.7

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26. Cologne, Germany
> Pct. of remote jobs: 36.7 — 16th lowest
> Minimum vacation days: 20 — 14th highest
> Days of paid parental leave: 466.9 — 7th highest
> Health care score (out of 100): 94.2 — 21st lowest
> Happiness, culture, and leisure score (out of 100): 85.5 — 24th highest
> Total score: 90.1

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25. Glasgow, Scotland
> Pct. of remote jobs: 43.5 — 9th highest
> Minimum vacation days: 28 — the highest
> Days of paid parental leave: 287.0 — 22nd highest
> Health care score (out of 100): 94.8 — 22nd highest
> Happiness, culture, and leisure score (out of 100): 82.7 — 13th lowest
> Total score: 90.7

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24. Liverpool, England
> Pct. of remote jobs: 43.5 — 9th highest
> Minimum vacation days: 28 — the highest
> Days of paid parental leave: 287.0 — 22nd highest
> Health care score (out of 100): 98.0 — 8th highest
> Happiness, culture, and leisure score (out of 100): 82.7 — 13th lowest
> Total score: 90.7

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23. Bremen, Germany
> Pct. of remote jobs: 36.7 — 16th lowest
> Minimum vacation days: 20 — 14th highest
> Days of paid parental leave: 466.9 — 7th highest
> Health care score (out of 100): 94.8 — 22nd highest
> Happiness, culture, and leisure score (out of 100): 85.5 — 24th highest
> Total score: 90.7

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22. Berlin, Germany
> Pct. of remote jobs: 36.7 — 16th lowest
> Minimum vacation days: 20 — 14th highest
> Days of paid parental leave: 466.9 — 7th highest
> Health care score (out of 100): 92.9 — 16th lowest
> Happiness, culture, and leisure score (out of 100): 93.8 — 5th highest
> Total score: 90.8

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21. Dusseldorf, Germany
> Pct. of remote jobs: 36.7 — 16th lowest
> Minimum vacation days: 20 — 14th highest
> Days of paid parental leave: 466.9 — 7th highest
> Health care score (out of 100): 94.8 — 22nd highest
> Happiness, culture, and leisure score (out of 100): 85.5 — 24th highest
> Total score: 90.9

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20. Frankfurt am Main, Germany
> Pct. of remote jobs: 36.7 — 16th lowest
> Minimum vacation days: 20 — 14th highest
> Days of paid parental leave: 466.9 — 7th highest
> Health care score (out of 100): 94.7 — 24th lowest
> Happiness, culture, and leisure score (out of 100): 85.5 — 24th highest
> Total score: 91.1

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19. Toronto, Canada
> Pct. of remote jobs: 37.8 — 21st lowest
> Minimum vacation days: 10 — 19th lowest
> Days of paid parental leave: 364.0 — 16th highest
> Health care score (out of 100): 97.2 — 10th highest
> Happiness, culture, and leisure score (out of 100): 90.1 — 10th highest
> Total score: 91.1

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18. Hamburg, Germany
> Pct. of remote jobs: 36.7 — 16th lowest
> Minimum vacation days: 20 — 14th highest
> Days of paid parental leave: 466.9 — 7th highest
> Health care score (out of 100): 94.9 — 21st highest
> Happiness, culture, and leisure score (out of 100): 79.9 — 7th lowest
> Total score: 91.8

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17. Auckland, New Zealand
> Pct. of remote jobs: 36.3 — 4th lowest
> Minimum vacation days: 20 — 14th highest
> Days of paid parental leave: 126.0 — 20th lowest
> Health care score (out of 100): 92.3 — 15th lowest
> Happiness, culture, and leisure score (out of 100): 84.5 — 19th lowest
> Total score: 92.1

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16. Vancouver, Canada
> Pct. of remote jobs: 37.8 — 21st lowest
> Minimum vacation days: 10 — 19th lowest
> Days of paid parental leave: 364.0 — 16th highest
> Health care score (out of 100): 96.8 — 13th highest
> Happiness, culture, and leisure score (out of 100): 79.6 — 5th lowest
> Total score: 92.2

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15. Leipzig, Germany
> Pct. of remote jobs: 36.7 — 16th lowest
> Minimum vacation days: 20 — 14th highest
> Days of paid parental leave: 466.9 — 7th highest
> Health care score (out of 100): 94.8 — 22nd highest
> Happiness, culture, and leisure score (out of 100): 85.5 — 24th highest
> Total score: 92.5

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14. Tokyo, Japan
> Pct. of remote jobs: 36.5 — 5th lowest
> Minimum vacation days: 10 — 19th lowest
> Days of paid parental leave: 770.0 — 2nd highest
> Health care score (out of 100): 99.3 — 3rd highest
> Happiness, culture, and leisure score (out of 100): 73.6 — the lowest
> Total score: 92.5

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13. Amsterdam, Netherlands
> Pct. of remote jobs: 41.5 — 18th highest
> Minimum vacation days: 20 — 14th highest
> Days of paid parental leave: 114.8 — 15th lowest
> Health care score (out of 100): 95.6 — 18th highest
> Happiness, culture, and leisure score (out of 100): 86.3 — 22nd highest
> Total score: 92.6

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12. Melbourne, Australia
> Pct. of remote jobs: 38.8 — 25th lowest
> Minimum vacation days: 20 — 14th highest
> Days of paid parental leave: 140.0 — 24th lowest
> Health care score (out of 100): 98.3 — 7th highest
> Happiness, culture, and leisure score (out of 100): 95.4 — 4th highest
> Total score: 92.8

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11. Stockholm, Sweden
> Pct. of remote jobs: 44.2 — 8th highest
> Minimum vacation days: 25 — 5th highest
> Days of paid parental leave: 490.0 — 4th highest
> Health care score (out of 100): 96.0 — 16th highest
> Happiness, culture, and leisure score (out of 100): 88.1 — 16th highest
> Total score: 93.3

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10. Munich, Germany
> Pct. of remote jobs: 36.7 — 16th lowest
> Minimum vacation days: 20 — 14th highest
> Days of paid parental leave: 466.9 — 7th highest
> Health care score (out of 100): 95.4 — 20th highest
> Happiness, culture, and leisure score (out of 100): 87.0 — 19th highest
> Total score: 93.7

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9. Stuttgart, Germany
> Pct. of remote jobs: 36.7 — 16th lowest
> Minimum vacation days: 20 — 14th highest
> Days of paid parental leave: 466.9 — 7th highest
> Health care score (out of 100): 93.8 — 20th lowest
> Happiness, culture, and leisure score (out of 100): 85.5 — 24th highest
> Total score: 93.8

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8. Sydney, Australia
> Pct. of remote jobs: 38.8 — 25th lowest
> Minimum vacation days: 20 — 14th highest
> Days of paid parental leave: 140.0 — 24th lowest
> Health care score (out of 100): 99.0 — 6th highest
> Happiness, culture, and leisure score (out of 100): 87.7 — 18th highest
> Total score: 94.0

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7. Ottawa, Canada
> Pct. of remote jobs: 37.8 — 21st lowest
> Minimum vacation days: 10 — 19th lowest
> Days of paid parental leave: 364.0 — 16th highest
> Health care score (out of 100): 96.7 — 14th highest
> Happiness, culture, and leisure score (out of 100): 81.4 — 9th lowest
> Total score: 95.5

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6. Geneva, Switzerland
> Pct. of remote jobs: 44.9 — 3rd highest
> Minimum vacation days: 20 — 14th highest
> Days of paid parental leave: 98.0 — 14th lowest
> Health care score (out of 100): 99.1 — 5th highest
> Happiness, culture, and leisure score (out of 100): 100.0 — the highest
> Total score: 95.8

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5. Copenhagen, Denmark
> Pct. of remote jobs: 41.4 — 19th highest
> Minimum vacation days: 25 — 5th highest
> Days of paid parental leave: 364.0 — 16th highest
> Health care score (out of 100): 94.8 — 22nd highest
> Happiness, culture, and leisure score (out of 100): 92.5 — 7th highest
> Total score: 96.2

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4. Zurich, Switzerland
> Pct. of remote jobs: 44.9 — 3rd highest
> Minimum vacation days: 20 — 14th highest
> Days of paid parental leave: 98.0 — 14th lowest
> Health care score (out of 100): 99.2 — 4th highest
> Happiness, culture, and leisure score (out of 100): 91.5 — 8th highest
> Total score: 96.3

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3. Helsinki, Finland
> Pct. of remote jobs: 38.9 — 24th highest
> Minimum vacation days: 25 — 5th highest
> Days of paid parental leave: 1,190.0 — the highest
> Health care score (out of 100): 96.7 — 14th highest
> Happiness, culture, and leisure score (out of 100): 96.3 — 3rd highest
> Total score: 99.2

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2. Bern, Switzerland
> Pct. of remote jobs: 44.9 — 3rd highest
> Minimum vacation days: 20 — 14th highest
> Days of paid parental leave: 98.0 — 14th lowest
> Health care score (out of 100): 99.6 — 2nd highest
> Happiness, culture, and leisure score (out of 100): 100.0 — the highest
> Total score: 99.5

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1. Oslo, Norway
> Pct. of remote jobs: 41.7 — 17th highest
> Minimum vacation days: 25 — 5th highest
> Days of paid parental leave: 707.0 — 3rd highest
> Health care score (out of 100): 100.0 — the highest
> Happiness, culture, and leisure score (out of 100): 88.8 — 14th highest
> Total score: 100.0

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