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Links between urban structure and life satisfaction in a cross-section of OECD metro areas

Author

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  • Brown, Zachary S.
  • Oueslati, Walid
  • Silva, Jérôme

Abstract

Contemporary urban planning is often oriented towards encouraging compact cities and the prevention of sprawl. But relatively little empirical work has quantitatively examined how land-use fragmentation, population density and compactness determine individual wellbeing. We analyse the relationship between these aspects of urban structure and life satisfaction in 33 cities distributed across five OECD countries. We create a unique dataset merging a household survey on environmental attitudes and behaviours in these countries with geospatial data on a number of indicators related to urban structure. In support of standard urban economic theory, we find a life satisfaction trade-off in terms of households' home sizes and distances to the urban core. A novel finding from the analysis is that the degree of local land-use fragmentation around households' residence is associated strongly and negatively with life satisfaction. We also find suggestive evidence that city centralization (the relative proportion of the population living in the core) decreases life satisfaction on average for individuals residing both within and outside the core.

Suggested Citation

  • Brown, Zachary S. & Oueslati, Walid & Silva, Jérôme, 2016. "Links between urban structure and life satisfaction in a cross-section of OECD metro areas," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 129(C), pages 112-121.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:129:y:2016:i:c:p:112-121
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2016.05.004
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Life satisfaction; Urban structure; Land-use; Compactness; Monocentric city model;

    JEL classification:

    • Q51 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Valuation of Environmental Effects
    • Q56 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth
    • R13 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - General Equilibrium and Welfare Economic Analysis of Regional Economies
    • R14 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Land Use Patterns
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being

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