Studies of this sort have usually been focused on wealthier, developed countries, so we have not been able to establish whether the expression ‘the greener the city, the healthier its people’ can apply universally.
As written up in mindbodygreen, a study has set out to find whether green space can have similar effects in countries with varying levels of development. To do so, researchers gathered imagery of green spaces from 60 countries across the globe, and compared this to each city’s average happiness score as reported in the United Nations’ World Happiness Report. The study also factored in the wealth level of the country.
Green spaces had the most effect on happiness if countries were wealthier
A key takeaway was that urban green spaces and happiness are related. However, the correlation was weaker for the 30 less wealthy countries, which shows that a certain level of economic prosperity in a nation is desirable before green spaces can influence happiness. This makes sense, given economic prosperity is often linked to a better standard of living and more opportunities. Once these needs were met, urban green spaces had a more positive impact on people.
Spending time in a park can make us happier, especially if we are with friends
Another interesting finding was that one of the reasons green spaces was related to happiness was because they tended to be places where we meet and interact with other people. This social support was found to be ‘the major component for connecting urban green space and happiness’.
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