While people in first-tier cities are under more pressure, smaller cities may not be the ideal place to live either, according to the 2016 Annual Report on Social Mentality of China by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
The results are based on a survey of 15,870 people across the country in August and September.
According to the report, people living in first-tier cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen suffer much higher economic pressure, while fourth-tier and smaller cities offer fewer job opportunities and connection plays an important role in every aspect of life there.
People in fourth-tier and smaller cities have economic pressures close to the national average level in terms of income, education, medical services and elderly care, while family and human relationship stress are higher than second- and third-tier cities.
The report found that third-tier cities are most livable places.
Those in third-tier cities are under relatively low financial stress and human relations stress, and enjoy better social and natural environments, and infrastructure.