It’s Official Parks Make People Happy

Most people enjoy spending time in parks, but do we understand how they benefit our well-being? A recently published study by University of Exeter Medical School's European Centre for the Environment and Human Health has proved that urban residents are happier when they live near parks.

Dr Matthew White and his team used the results of the British Household Panel Survey between 1991 and 2008 to develop a picture of happiness levels across the country, and cross referenced this with a land use database. The findings showed that "people reported a higher life satisfaction and less mental distress when they lived in greener areas, even after lifestyle changes were account for."

The study compared a range of factors and concluded that living near a park makes people around a third as happy as being married and a tenth as happy as being employed rather than being unemployed. This research may have an impact on future decision making in relation to parks and open spaces as Dr White explained: "These kinds of comparisons are important for policymakers when trying to decide how to invest scarce public resources, such as for park development or upkeep, and figuring out what bang they'll get for their buck. This research could be important for psychologists, public health officials and urban planners who are interested in learning about the effects that urbanisation and city planning can have on population health and wellbeing."