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Urban green space and happiness in developed countries

  • Kwon, Oh-Hyun1
  • Hong, Inho2
  • Yang, Jeasurk3
  • Wohn, Donghee Y.4
  • Jung, Woo-Sung1, 1, 5
  • Cha, Meeyoung6, 7
  • 1 Pohang University of Science and Technology, Pohang, 37673, Republic of Korea , Pohang (South Korea)
  • 2 Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin, 14195, Germany , Berlin (Germany)
  • 3 National University of Singapore, Singapore, 119260, Singapore , Singapore (Singapore)
  • 4 New Jersey Institute of Technology, Newark, NJ, 07103, USA , Newark (United States)
  • 5 Asia Pacific Center for Theoretical Physics, Pohang, 37673, Republic of Korea , Pohang (South Korea)
  • 6 Institute for Basic Science, Daejeon, 34126, Republic of Korea , Daejeon (South Korea)
  • 7 Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, Daejeon, 34141, Republic of Korea , Daejeon (South Korea)
Published Article
EPJ Data Science
Springer Berlin Heidelberg
Publication Date
May 30, 2021
DOI: 10.1140/epjds/s13688-021-00278-7
Springer Nature


Urban green space is thought to contribute to citizen happiness by promoting physical and mental health. Nevertheless, how urban green space and happiness are related across many countries with different socioeconomic conditions has not been explored. By measuring the urban green space score (UGS) from high-resolution satellite imagery of 90 global cities covering 179,168 km2 and 230 million people in 60 developed countries, we find that the amount of urban green space and GDP are correlated with a nation’s happiness level. More specifically, urban green space and GDP are each individually associated with happiness. Yet, only urban green space is related to happiness in the 30 wealthiest countries, whereas GDP alone can explain happiness in the subsequent 30 countries in terms of wealth. We further show that the relationship between urban green space and happiness is mediated by social support and that GDP moderates this relationship. These findings corroborate the importance of maintaining urban green space as a place for social cohesion to support people’s happiness.

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