The Keys to Happiness in City Living

Ariel Schwartz reports on the findings of a new study from Urban Affairs Review that surveyed residents from 10 major international cities on what qualities make them most happy.
February 17, 2012, 5am PST | Alesia Hsiao
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According to Schwartz, the findings show a significant association between happiness and the built urban environment. "In general, respondents were happiest when their cities had easy access to public transportation, cultural activities, libraries, shops, and sports facilities." Moreover, respondents attributed amenities like clean drinking water and a safe environment as important to their levels of happiness.

Interestingly, the study showed that the concept of a "beautiful city" had little to do with a city's cleanliness. "Living in a ‘beautiful city' was the most important predictor of happiness among survey respondents, but having clean streets, sidewalks, and public spaces weren't rated as being important," writes Schwartz.

Researchers speculate that connectedness is also a key to happiness, pointing to a major difference between the designs of city environments and gated suburban communities. A city is designed and built around shared space, which promotes the building of social connections through shared experiences. Whereas the typical gated suburb, in its layout and appearance, discourages such connections, and by inference, makes people less happy.

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Published on Thursday, February 16, 2012 in Fast Coexist
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