Social Indicators Research

, Volume 115, Issue 2, pp 531–559 | Cite as

Monetary, Subjective and Quantitative Approaches to Assess Urban Quality of Life and Pleasantness in Cities (Hedonic Price, Willingness-to-Pay, Positional Value, Life Satisfaction, Isobenefit Lines)

  • Luca D’AcciEmail author


The magnitude increase of Urban Quality of Life studies is directly connected with the increase of the urban population in the world. Urban Quality of Life is a hierarchical multi-attribute concept whose attributes can be defined and evaluated by several kinds of methods such as Monetary (Hedonic Price, Willingness-to-pay, Cost-Benefit, Positional Value), Subjective (life satisfaction, subjective wellbeing, ranking/rating evaluation) and Quantitative (how many urban attractions there are in the city, and how they are distributed on its planimetry). As real examples of monetary approaches, 107 empirical literature results are briefly shown, quantifying the increase of property value in relation to urban factors such as green, open space, noise, public transport, pleasant view, etc. The result of a Willingness-to-Pay survey, and the definition of Positional Value are also shown; it is the part of property value coming from the characteristics of the area in which the property is. An analysis of Turin illustrated that the quality of the area (the Positional Value) can change the value of a property up to 143 %. This value is, in a certain way, a monetary mirror of the quality of life of the areas. As a concrete example of subjective approaches two rating method surveys on Turin are rapidly exposed, as well as a recent subjective wellbeing study comparing the life satisfaction in cities and in the countryside. As quantitative approaches are proposed the concepts of Isobenefit Lines and the Isobenefit Orography, both from the spatial urban amenities distribution and quantity.


City wellbeing Urban amenities City centres Urban economy Citizens happiness Isobenefit lines 


  1. Allen, W. B., Chang, K., Marchetti, D., & Pokalski, J. (1986). Value capture in transit: The case of the lindenwold high speed line. The Wharton Transportation Program, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.Google Scholar
  2. American Planning Association (2002). City Parks Forum Briefing Papers.Google Scholar
  3. Anderson, S. T., & West, S. E. (2006). Open space, residential property values and spatial context. Regional Science and Urban Economics, 36, 773–789.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bajic, V. (1983). The effects of a new subway line on housing prices in metropolitan Toronto. Urban Studies, 2, 147–158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bateman, I., Day, B., Lake, I., & Lovett, A. (2001). The effect of road traffic on residential property values: A literature review and hedonic pricing study. Report to the Scottish Executive Development Department. School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich.Google Scholar
  6. Benjamin, J. D., & Sirmansm, G. S. (1996). Mass transportation, apartment rent and property values. The Journal of Real Estate Research, 12, 1–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Benson, E. D., Hansen, J. L., Schwartz, A. L., Jr, & Smersh, G. T. (1998). Pricing residential amenities: The value of a view. The Journal of Real Estate Finance Economics, 16, 55–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bianchini, F. (1990). The crisis of urban social life in Britain: Origins of the problems and possible responses. Planning Practice and Research, 5(3), 4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Blanco, J. C., & Flindell, I. (2011). Property prices in urban areas affected by road traffic noise. Applied Acoustics, 72, 133–141.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bolitzer, B., & Netusil, N. R. (2000). The impact of open spaces on property values in Portland, Oregon. Journal of Environmental Management, 59(3), 185–193.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Bolund, P., & Hunhammar, S. (1999). Ecosystem services in urban areas. Ecological Economics, 29, 293–301.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Bourassa, S. C., Hoesli, M., & Sun, J. (2004). What’s in a view? Environment and Planning D, 36, 1427–1450.Google Scholar
  13. Bowes, D. R., & Ihlanfeldt, K. R. (2001). Identifying the impacts of rail transit stations on residential property values. Journal of Urban Economics, 50, 1–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Brander, L. M., & Koetse, M. J. (2011). The Value of urban open space: Meta-analyses of contingent valuation and hedonic pricing results. Journal of Environmental Management, 92(10), 2763–2773.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Breffle, W., Morey, E., & Lodder, T. (1998). Use of contingent valuation to estimate a neighbourhood’s willingness to pay to preserve undeveloped urban land. Urban Studies, 35, 715–727.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Campbell, A., Philip E. C., & Willard L. R. (1976). The quality of American life: Perceptions, evaluations, and satisfactions. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.Google Scholar
  17. Cervero, R. (1996). Transit-based housing in the San Francisco Bay area: Market profiles and rent premiums. Transportation Quarterly, 50(3), 33–47.Google Scholar
  18. Cervero, K. R., & Kang, C. D. (2011). Bus rapid transit impacts on land uses and land values in Seoul. Transport Policy, 18(1), 102–116.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Chen, Z., & Davey, G. (2008). Subjective quality of life in Zhuhai City, South China: A public survey using the international wellbeing index. Social Indicator Research, 91, 243–258.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Colliers Erdman Lewis. (1995). Colliers Erdman Lewis how to get pedestrian rental growth. London: Colliers Erdman Lewis Research and Consultancy.Google Scholar
  21. Costanza, R., d’Arge, R., de Groot, R., Farber, S., Grasso, M., Hannon, B., et al. (1997). The value of the world’s ecosystem services and natural capital. Nature, 387(15), 253–260.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Crompton, J. L. (2001). The impact of parks on property values: A review of the empirical evidence. Joumal of Leisure Research, 33, 1–31.Google Scholar
  23. D’Acci, L. (2007). Formazione e simulazione dei valori immobiliari. Ph.D thesis, Politecnico di Torino.Google Scholar
  24. D’Acci, L. (2009a). A mathematical aid for efficient distribution of social benefit in urban planning. In G. Rabino & F. Scarlatti (Eds.), Advances in models and methods for planning. Bologna: Pitagora.Google Scholar
  25. D’Acci, L. (2012a). The positional value: Influence of city area on the real estate value (Under review).Google Scholar
  26. D’Acci, L. (2012b). Urban quality of life estimates, Encyclopedia of Quality of Life Research, Springer (in press).Google Scholar
  27. D’Acci, L. (2012c). Hedonic inertia and underground happiness, Social Indicators Research. doi: 10.1007/s11205-012-0137-2. ISSN 1573-0921.
  28. D’Acci, L. (2012d). Isobenefit lines, breaking point of equal attraction, uniformity benefit, variety value and proximity value, preference gap gain. General Finance (q-fin.GN); Physics and Society (physics.soc-ph), Cornell University Library.
  29. D’Acci, L. (2012e). Modeling spatial equilibrium in cities: The isobenefit lines. General Finance (q-fin.GN); Physics and Society (physics.soc-ph), Cornell University Library.
  30. D’Acci, L. (2012f). Urban isobenefit lines. In A. C. Michalos (Ed.), Encyclopedia of quality of life research. Springer. ISBN 978-94-007-0752-8.Google Scholar
  31. D’Acci, L. (2008). Grown, urban transformation, real estate value: Econometric cellular automata for the simulation of positional value. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, LNCS 5072.Google Scholar
  32. D’Acci, L. (2009b). Spatial distribution of social benefit given by urban attractions. Lecture Notes in Computer Science LNCS, 5592, 237–252.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. D’Acci, L. (2010a). Measuring well-being and progress. Social Indicators Research, 104(1), 47–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. D’Acci, L. (2010b). A spatial multicriteria decision analysis to plan new urban poles in metropolies. In P. Pontrandolfi, B. Murgante, & G. Las Casas (Eds.), Informatica e Pianificazione Urbana e Territoriale, Vol. 1 (pp. 321–330). Melfi: Libria.Google Scholar
  35. D’Acci, L. & Lombardi, P. (2010). MuSIC—A new multi-scalar index for evaluating sustainability in cities. In S. Lehmann, H. Al Waer & J. Al-Qawasmi (Eds.). Sustainable architecture & urban development. CSAAR—Center for the Study of Architecture in Arab Region (JOR), Amman.Google Scholar
  36. Damigos, D., & Anyfantis, F. (2011). The value of view through the eyes of real estate experts: A Fuzzy Delphi Approach. Landscape and Urban Planning, 101(2), 171–178.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Das, D. (2008). Urban quality of life: A case study of Guwahati. Social Indicators Research, 88, 297–310.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Debrezion, G., Pels, E., & Rietveld, P. (2007). The impact of railway stations on residential and commercial property value: A meta-analysis. The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, 35, 161–180.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Dewees, D. N. (1976). Congestion costs in urban motoring: Some Toronto estimates. Toronto: Centre for Urban and Community Studies, University of Toronto.Google Scholar
  40. Diamantini, C., & Zanon, B. (2000). Planning the urban sustainable development: The case of the plan for the province of Trento, Italy. Environmental Impact Assessment, 20, 299–310.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Ding, C., Simons, R., & Baku, E. (2000). The effect of residential investment on nearby property values: Evidence from Cleveland, OH. The Journal of Real Estate Research, 19(1), 23–48.Google Scholar
  42. Doss, C. R., & Taff, S. J. (1996). The influence of wetland type and wetland proximity on residential property values. Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, 21, 120–129.Google Scholar
  43. Dueker, K. J., & Bianco, M. J. (1999). Light rail transit impacts in Portland: The first ten years. Presented at Transportation Research Board, 78th Annual Meeting.Google Scholar
  44. Dunn, M.B., (1986). Property values and potentially hazardous production facilities: A case study of the Kanawha Valley, West Virginia. Ph.D. Dissertation, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida.Google Scholar
  45. Dunning, H., Williams, A., Abonyi, S., & Crooks, V. (2008). A mixed method approach to quality of life research: A case study approach. Social Indicator Research, 85, 145–158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Easterlin, R. A., Angelescu, L., & Zweig, J. S. (2011). The impact of modern economic growth on urban-rural differences in subjective well-being. World Development, 39(12), 2187–2198.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Epley, D. R., & Menon, M. (2008). A method of assembling cross-sectional indicators into a community quality of life. Social Indicators Research, 88, 281–296.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Espey, M., & Lopez, H. (2000). The impact of airport noise and proximity on residential property values. Growth and Change, 31, 408–419.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. European Federation for Transport and Environment (EFTE). (2002). Transport and the economy: Myths and facts 2002. Transport, Infrastructure and the Economy: A TandE Fact-Sheet 2002.Google Scholar
  50. Evans, R. (1997). Regenerating town centres. Manchester: Manchester University Press.Google Scholar
  51. Fejarang, R. A. (1994). Impact on property values: A study of the Los Angeles metro rail. Washington, DC: Transportation Research Board, preprint, Transportation Research Board, 73rd annual meeting, 9–13 Jan.Google Scholar
  52. Fennema, A. T., Veeneklaas, F. R., & Vreke, J. (1996). Meerwaarde woningen door nabijheid van groen (Surplus value of dwellings in the vicinity of green areas). Stedebouw en Ruimtelijke Ordening, 3, 33–35.Google Scholar
  53. Frederick, R., Goo, R., (1996). Economic benefits of urban runoff controls. Urban Sources Section, Assessment and Watershed Protection Division. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  54. Gehl, J., Gemzøe, L., (1999). Public spaces-public life. Copenhagen: Danish Architectural Press and the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. School of Architecture Publishers.Google Scholar
  55. Glaeser, E. (2008). Cities, agglomeration, and spatial equilibrium. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  56. Grasso, M., & Canova, L. (2008). An assessment of the quality of life in the European Union based on the social indicators approach. Social Indicator Research, 87, 1–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Graves, P., Murdoch, J. C., Thayer, M. A., & Waldman, D. (1988). The robustness of hedonic price estimation: Urban air quality. Land Economics, 64, 220–233.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Hass-Klau, C. (1993). Impact of pedestrianization and traffic calming on retailing. A review of the evidence from Germany and the UK. Transport Policy, 1(1), 21–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Hass-Klau, C., & Crampton, G. (2002). Future of urban transport, learning from success and weakness: Light rail. Brighton: ETP.Google Scholar
  60. Hill, R. (2011). Hedonic price indexes for housing. OECD Statistics working papers, 2011/01, OECD Publishing.
  61. Hui, E. C. M., Chau, C. K., Pun, L., & Law, M. Y. (2007). Measuring the neighboring and environmental effects on residential property value: Using spatial weighting matrix. Building and Environment, 42, 2333–2343.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Husted, R. J. & Anker, N. O. (2004). Assessment of traffic noise impacts. International Journal of Environmental Studies. Sections A & B, 61(1), 19–30.Google Scholar
  63. Ibeas, A., Cordera, R., dell’Olio, L., Coppola, P., & Dominguez, A. (2012). Modelling transport and real-estate values interactions in urban systems. Journal of Transport Geography, 24, 370–382.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Jenny, A., & Ericson, A. (2006). A participatory approach to conservation in the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve, Campeche, Mexico. Landscape Urban Planning, 74, 242–266.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Jim, C. Y., & Chen, W. Y. (2006). Impacts of urban environmental elements on residential housing prices in Guangzhou (China). Landscape and Urban Planning, 78, 422–434.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Jim, C. Y., & Chen, W. Y. (2007). Consumption preferences and environmental externalities: A hedonic analysis of the housing market in Guangzhou. Geoforum, 38, 414–431.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Jim, C. Y., & Chen, W. Y. (2009). Value of scenic views: Hedonic assessment of private housing in Hong Kong. Landscape Urban Planning.Google Scholar
  68. Johansson, S. (2002). Conceptualizing and measuring quality of life for national policy. Social Indicators Research, 58, 13–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Joint Center for Urban Mobility Research (1987). Assessment of changes in property values in transit areas.Google Scholar
  70. Kahneman, D., Deiner, D., & Schwarz, N. (Eds.) (1999). Well-being: The foundations of hedonic psychology. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.Google Scholar
  71. Kask, S. B., & Maani, A. (1992). Uncertainty, information and hedonic pricing. Land Economics, 68, 170–184.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Lake, I., Lovett, A. A., Bateman, I. J., & Langford, I. H. (1998). Modelling environmental influences on property prices in an urban environment. Computers, Environment and Urban Systems, 22(2), 121–136.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Li, F., Liu, X., Hu, D., Wang, R., Yang, W., Li, D., et al. (2009). Measurement indicators and an evaluation approach for assessing urban sustainable development: A case study for China’s Jining City. Landscape and Urban Planning, 90(2009), 134–142.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Lopes, M.N., & Camanho, A.S. (2012). Public green space use and consequences on urban vitality: An assessment of European cities. Social Indicators Research.Google Scholar
  75. Luttik, J. (2000). The value of trees, water and open space as reflected by house prices in the Netherlands. Landscape and Urban Planning, 48, 161–167.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Lutzenhiser, M., & Netusil, N. R. (2001). The effect of open spaces on a home’s sales price. Contemporary Economic Policy, 19, 291–298.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Marans, R. W., & Stimson, R. (2011). Investigating quality of urban life: Theory, methods, and empirical research. Social Indicators Research Series, 45, 1–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. McLeod, P. B. (1984). Thedemandfor local amenity: An hedonic price analysis. Environment and Planning A, 16, 389–400.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. McMillen, D. P. (2004). Airport expansions and property values: The case of Chicago O’Hare Airport. Journal of Urban Economics, 55, 627–640.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Mendelsohn, R., Hellerstein, D., Huguenin, M., Unsworth, R., & Brazee, R. (1992). Measuring hazardous waste damages with panel models. Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, 22(3), 259–271.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Michaels, R. G., & Smith, V. K. (1990). Market segmentation and valuing amenities with hedonic models: the case of hazardous waste sites. Journal of Urban Economics, 28(2), 223–242.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. MIT Technology Review. (2012). Isobenefit lines rewrite rules for understanding city life.
  83. Morancho, A. (2003). A hedonic valuation of urban green areas. Landscape Urban Planning, 66, 35–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  84. Morano, P. (2006). Analisi di regressione per le valutazioni di ordine estimativo. Torino: Celid.Google Scholar
  85. Nelson, A. C. (1992). Effects of elevated heavy-rail transit stations on house prices with respect to neighborhood incomes. Transportation Research Record, 1359, 127–132.Google Scholar
  86. Neupane, A., & Gustavson, K. (2008). Urban property values and contaminated sites: A hedonic analysis of Sydney, Nova Scotia. Journal of Environmental Management, 88, 1212–1220.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  87. Newby, L., (1992). Paved with gold-A study of the economic impact of pedestrianisation and its relevance to Leicester. Research report no. 7. Leicester Environment City Trust. December.Google Scholar
  88. Okulicz-Kozaryn, A. (2011). City life: Rankings (livability) versus perceptions (satisfaction). Social Indicators Research. doi: 10.1007/s11205-011-9939-x. ISSN 1573-0921.
  89. Pacione, M. (2003). Introduction on urban environmental quality and human wellbeing. Landscape and Urban Planning, 65(2003), 1–3.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  90. Pearson, C. A., (2000). Making good design pay off. Fourth annual business week/architectural records awards. Architectural Record 188(10), 84–99.Google Scholar
  91. Poudyal, N. C., Hodges, D. G., & Merrett, C. D. (2009). A hedonic analysis of the demand and benefits of urban recreation parks. Land Use Policy, 26(4), 975–983.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  92. Rezvani, M. R., Mansourian, H., & Sattari, M. H. (2012). Evaluating quality of life in urban areas. Social Indicators Research. doi: 10.1007/s11205-012-0048-2. ISSN 1573-0921.
  93. Rodriguez, D. A., & Mojica, C. H. (2009). Capitalization of BRT network expansions effects into prices of non-expansion areas. Transportation Research Part A, 43(5), 561–575.Google Scholar
  94. Romano, O., & Ercolano, S. (2012). Who makes the most? Measuring theurban environmental virtuosity”. Social Indicators Research. doi: 10.1007/s11205-012-0078-9. ISSN 1573-0921.
  95. Rossouw, S., & Naude, W. (2008). The non-economic quality of life on a sub-national level in South Africa. Social Indicators Research, 86, 433–452.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  96. Saretzki, A., Wöhler, K. (1995). Verkehrsentwicklungsplan, Umsatzentwicklung und Kundenverhalten, Industrie-und Handelskammer Lüneburg. Transport Development Plan: Turnover and Customer Behaviour, Lüneburg (not officially published).Google Scholar
  97. Schaerer, C., Baranzini, A., Ramirez, J. W., Thalmann, P. (2007). Using the hedonic approach to value natural land uses in an urban area: An application to Geneva and Zurich. Économie publique/Public economics 20 (2007/1).Google Scholar
  98. Schell, L. M., & Ulijaszek, S. J. (1999). Urbanism, health and human biology in industrialized countries (pp. 59–60). London: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  99. Shearer, A. W., Mouat, D. A., Bassett, S. D., Binford, M. W., Johnson, C. W., & Saarinen, J. A. (2006). Examining development-related uncertainties for environmental management strategic planning scenarios in Southern California. Landscape Urban Planning, 77, 359–381.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  100. Simonotti, M. (1997). La stima immobiliare. Torino: Utet.Google Scholar
  101. Simons, R. A., Quercia, R. G., & Levin, I. M. (1998). The value impact of new residential construction and neighborhood disinvestment on residential sales price. Journal of Real Estate Research, 15(2), 147–161.Google Scholar
  102. Smith, B. H. (1994). Coastal setback and the impact of water amenities. Geographical Analysis, 26, 364–369.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  103. Smolen, G. E., Moore, G., & Conway, L. V. (1991). Economic effects of hazardous waste landfills on surrounding real estate values in Toledo, Ohio. Research report no. 44, Center for Real Estate Education and Research, Ohio State University.Google Scholar
  104. Tajima, K. (2003). New estimates of the demand for urban green space: Implications for valuing the environmental benefits of Boston’s big dig project. Journal of Urban Affairs, 25, 641–655.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  105. Troy, A., & Grove, J. M. (2008). Property values, parks, and crime: A hedonic analysis in Baltimore, MD. Landscape and Urban Planning, 87(2008), 233–245.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  106. Tse, R. Y. C. (2002). Estimating neighborhood effects in house prices: Towards a new hedonic model approach. Urban Studies, 39, 1165–1180.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  107. Tyrvainen, L., & Miettinen, A. (2000). Property prices and urban forest amenities. Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, 39, 205–223.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  108. Ulengin, B., Ulengin, F., & Guvenc, U. (2001). A multidimensional approach to urban quality of life: The case of Istanbul. European Journal of Operational Research, 130, 361–374.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  109. van Poll, R. (1997). The perceived quality of the urban residential environment. A multi-attribute evaluation. Roermond: Printing Westrom.Google Scholar
  110. Voith, R. (1991). Transportation, sorting and house values. Journal of the American Real Estate Urban Economics Association, 19, 117–137.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  111. Wachter, S., & Gillen, K. (2006). Public investment strategies: How they matter for neighborhoods in Philadelphia: Identification and analysis. Philadelphia: Pennsylvania Horticultural Society.Google Scholar
  112. Weinberger, R. (2001). Light rail proximity: Benefit or detriment, the case of Santa Clara County, California. Washington, DC: Transportation Research Board (presented at Transportation Research Board 80th annual meeting, 7–11 Jan).Google Scholar
  113. Weinstein, B. L., & Clower, T. L. (1999). The initial economic impacts of the Dart Lrt system. Transportation Research Board, Center for Economic Development and Research, University of North Texas, Denton.Google Scholar
  114. Wen, Z., & Chen, J. (2008). A cost-benefit analysis for the economic growth in China. Ecological Economics, 65, 356–366.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  115. Wu, J., Adams, R., & Plantinga, A. (2004). Amenities in an urban equilibrium model: Residential development in Portland, Oregon. Land Economics, 80, 19–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Urban Design Studies UnitUniversity of StrathclydeGlasgowUK
  2. 2.Faculdade de Engenharia Civil, Arquitetura e UrbanismoUniversidade Estadual de CampinasSão PauloBrazil

Personalised recommendations