Environment, Development and Sustainability

, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp 633–647

Are sustainable cities “happy” cities? Associations between sustainable development and human well-being in urban areas of the United States


DOI: 10.1007/s10668-013-9499-0

Cite this article as:
Cloutier, S., Larson, L. & Jambeck, J. Environ Dev Sustain (2014) 16: 633. doi:10.1007/s10668-013-9499-0


In this paper, we assess the associations between self-reported happiness, measured using the Gallup Healthways Well-Being Index (2012), and four US city sustainability indices: the Green City Index (2011), Our Green Cities (2012), Popular Science US City Rankings (2008) and the SustainLane US Green City Rankings (2007). Based on the examination of nonparametric, rank-based correlations, we found positive associations between sustainable development and happiness on all scales and statistically significant correlations for two of the four SD indices. Results support previous research, emphasize the value of explicit consideration of happiness when measuring urban sustainability and highlight the need for future research that assesses the influence of specific subsystems of urban development on self-reported happiness.


Happiness Sustainability Sustainable development Community development 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of EngineeringUniversity of GeorgiaAthensUSA
  2. 2.Department of Natural ResourcesCornell UniversityIthacaUSA

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