Would you be happier living in a greener urban area?

Researchers from University of Exeter led by Doctor Matthew White have taken a significant leap forward in the search to find a link between living in greener surroundings and psychological wellbeing.

While evidence uncovered over the last three decades had already established a link between greener spaces and better mental health, the exact nature of this link has remained unclear. Using the British Panel Household Survey as a method of analysis, the University discovered that people living in urban areas with a good selection of green spaces reported to be significantly happier and displayed lower mental distress than individuals living in urban areas with minimal green space.

The analysis also made it possible to compare the beneficial effects of green space with other factors which influence wellbeing. In comparative terms, living in an area with higher levels of green space was associated with improvements in our wellbeing indicators roughly equal to a third of that gained from being married, or a tenth as large as being employed vs. unemployed.

Speaking of the findings, Dr White argues that: “Ultimately being married is good for the wellbeing of a few people, whereas a park in the middle of a city can affect thousands of people, so the benefits of green space might be smaller for any individual but at population level they can be really substantial”.

For more information on the research visit the European Centre for Environment and Human Health.

To download the report in its entirety visit the Psychological science online.