Applied Research in Quality of Life

, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 197–220 | Cite as

Livability and Subjective Well-Being Across European Cities

  • Adam Okulicz-KozarynEmail author
  • Rubia R. Valente


This study documents for the first time the correlation between livability and subjective well-being (SWB) across European cities. Livability is measured with the popular Mercer Quality of Living Survey and correlates considerably with SWB, measured as place and life satisfactions. There are outliers, for instance: the “unlivable” but “happy” Belfast (fool’s paradise) and the “livable,” but “unhappy” Paris (fool’s hell). In addition, we find geographic patterns: while the Mercer index ranks higher Western cities, subjective well-being is higher in Northern cities. Smaller cities score higher on both livability and SWB, confirming thus the urban sociological theory of urban malaise while contradicting urban economic theory of city triumph.


Satisfaction Happiness Subjective well-being Quality of life Urban quality of life Cities City rankings Livability Best places to live Mercer Economic theory Utility 


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature and The International Society for Quality-of-Life Studies (ISQOLS) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Public Policy & AdministrationRutgers UniversityCamdenUSA
  2. 2.Vistula UniversityWarsawPoland
  3. 3.Marxe School of Public and International AffairsBaruch College, CUNYNew YorkUSA

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