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Sunday, November 19 2017 @ 07:49 PM UTC

The environmental building blocks of urban happiness

Biking Elsewherefrom Switchboard, from NRDC › Kaid Benfield's Blog by Kaid Benfield


The Gallup study examined a number of questions directly related to the built environment, including the convenience of public transportation, the ease of access to shops, the presence of parks and sports facilities, the ease of access to cultural and entertainment facilities, and the presence of libraries.  All were found to correlate significantly with happiness, with convenient public transportation and easy access to cultural and leisure facilities showing the strongest correlation. 

The statistical analysis also included questions related to urban environmental quality apart from cities’ built form, and produced additional significant correlations:

“The more respondents felt their city was beautiful (aesthetics), felt it was clean (aesthetics and safety), and felt safe walking at night (safety), the more likely they were to report being happy.  Sydney, Australia (by: Alex E Proimos, creative commons license)Similarly, the more they felt that publicly provided water was safe, and their city was a good place to rear and care for children, the more likely they were to be happy.”

Among these, the perception of living in a beautiful city had the strongest correlation with happiness.  Curiously, though, the researchers found that the perception of "clean streets, sidewalks, and public spaces" actually had a somewhat negative association with happiness.  Happy people apparently find their urban environments both beautiful and messy.  (Well, the survey did include New York.)


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