Residents of big cities typically earn higher wages, but are they any happier? According to surveys on life satisfaction, American cities were once less happy than rural areas. Industrial areas seem once to have paid wages that were high enough for their residents to put up with a little misery, but this is no longer true. The unhappier cities of America's industrial heartland have shrunk, while the happier cities have grown, and today there is no relationship between city size and self-reported life satisfaction within the U.S. The developing world today appears to be reversing the Western industrial pattern of happy farms/unhappy cities, with far higher levels of life satisfaction in urban areas.
Ed Glaeser is Fred and Eleanor Glimp Professor of Economics at Harvard University.
Ricky Burdett (@BURDETTR) is Professor of Urban Studies, and director of LSE Cities and the Urban Age Programme.
LSE Cities (@LSECities) is an international centre at the London School of Economics and Political Science that carries out research, education and outreach activities in London and abroad. Its mission is to study how people and cities interact in a rapidly urbanising world, focussing on how the design of cities impacts on society, culture and the environment
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