environment · Nature

Quantification of how urban green spaces deliver big happiness boost

There have been studies that have found a correlation between nature and calming, relaxation, and an ability to concentrate. But is this effect quantifiable? And how much of an impact is there?

A lot, according to a new study in Psychological Science. The researchers estimate that green urban areas provide a life satisfaction boost roughly equivalent to one-fifth to one-quarter of the increase associated with being married or having a job.

Several studies have suggested that people living near green spaces are less anxious and depressed. But these studies generally don’t account for the possible effects of personality. For example, perhaps more upbeat people tend to live in greener places.

To avoid that problem, the study authors analyzed survey data from more than 10,000 people in the UK over an 18-year period, noting changes in the participants’ well-being and health as they moved from place to place. That way, the researchers could compare happiness in the same person while living in a green and not-so-green area. The team also controlled for factors such as crime rates, income level, and the type of housing.

More at Conservation Magazine.