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Id 134
Author Li, Y., ; Winters, J., V.
Title Urbanisation, natural amenities and subjective well-being: Evidence from US counties.

Winters, J.V.; Li, Y. (2017). Urbanisation, natural amenities and subjective well-being: Evidence from US counties. Urban Studies, 54(8): 1956-1973.

Keywords Amenities; Population density; Quality of life; Subjective well-being; Urbanisation
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Abstract This paper examines the relationships between county-level urbanisation, natural amenities and subjective well-being (SWB) in the US. SWB is measured using individual-level data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) which asks respondents to rate their overall life satisfaction. Using individual-level SWB data allows us to control for several important individual characteristics. The results suggest that urbanisation lowers SWB, with relatively large negative coefficients for residents in dense counties and large metropolitan areas. Natural amenities also affect SWB, with warmer winters having a significant positive relationship with self-reported life-satisfaction. Implications for researchers and policymakers are discussed.

Metodology This paper combines individual-level data from the 2005-2010 BRFSS with county-level data on urbanization and natural amenities. The dependent variable is a measure of subjective well-being from the BRFSS.

Findings Most individuals care about both their own well-being and the well-being of others. Researchers and policymakers are interested in how various factors affect individual well-being, in part because they are interested in improving the well-being of others. However, there is still limited knowledge about what factors actually improve individual well-being. Locational factors have been hypothesized to affect well-being, but the previous literature offering empirical evidence is quite limited, especially for the U.S. This paper examines the effects of county-level measures of urbanization and natural amenities on subjective well-being using individual-level data from the BRFSS. Living in an urban area conveys a number of both costs and benefits. However, the results in this study suggest that large and densely populated urban areas have negative net effects on individual life-satisfaction; that is, living in cities on average makes people in the U.S. less happy. Policymakers should be aware of these results. Policies that reduce the size and density of metropolitan areas may be able to improve well-being, for example, by reducing congestion, pollution, and time spent commuting. Authors also find evidence consistent with expectations that more extreme climate conditions reduce subjective well-being. Specifically, warmer winter months consistently increase life satisfaction, and there is some evidence that hotter summer months reduce life satisfaction. Mobile individuals are expected to seek out areas offering them the highest well-being, so these spatial differences in SWB by climate suggest that the long-term population redistribution to areas with nicer weather is likely to continue for the foreseeable future.
Open Access NO
DOI DOI: 10.1177/0042098016631918
Search Database SC (Scopus)
Technique Document analysis; Statistical analysis
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