Happiness is In The Air if It Grows Growing Places are Happier than Shrinking ones

Adam Okulicz-Kozaryn, Brian K. Everett, Ebshoy Mikhaeil

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

We study the effect of population change on subjective wellbeing (SWB) using over 100,000 observations from behavioral risk factor surveillance system representative of 392 US counties. SWB correlates higher with population change (0.4) than with county-level crime (-0.25) and income (0.2). The relative ecological strong effect size holds in regressions controlling for person-level and county-level predictors of SWB-population change is one of the strongest ecological predictors of SWB. While ecological variables have a smaller effect on individual SWB than person-level variables, their total combined population effect is large. This is only the second study on the effect of population change of a city/county on its residents’ happiness. Such a gap in the literature is remarkable—we call for more research in this area and present directions for future research. As in any nonexperimental study, results are not causal. And results may not generalize beyond the US population studied.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalUrban Affairs Review
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Urban Studies

Keywords

  • behavioral risk factor surveillance system
  • happiness
  • life satisfaction
  • population change
  • shrinkage
  • subjective wellbeing

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