Measuring Quality of Life in Border Cities: The Border Observatory Project in the US-Mexico Border Region

  • Devon McAslan
  • Mihir Prakash
  • David PijawkaEmail author
  • Subhrajit Guhathakurta
  • Edward Sadalla
Part of the Community Quality-of-Life Indicators book series (CQLI, volume 4)


Beginning in 2004, the Border Observatory Project started to collect quality-of-life data in the US-Mexico border region especially in the urban areas along the border. Up to that time, the various efforts to measure urban conditions in the border were limited, piecemeal, or not systematic, and replete with serious data shortfalls. This made drawing meaningful comparisons between cities on either side of the border a challenging process. Several urban indicators were available, but the full array of possible measures for quality-of-life assessments were not available because of missing data, scale inconsistencies between the two countries, as well as the complications engendered by inconsistent definitional uses. The Observatory collected both “objective” measures and “subjective” indicators up to 2010 to complete the first phase of the project for four pairs of sister cities – eight cities in total. Subjective measures were developed through household surveys in each of the cities, and the study examined longitudinal changes in these measures for two sister pairs. Two other analyses were developed contributing to the quality-of-life measurement approaches – an index based on economic, social and environmental indicators, and a happiness or social well-being measure for each city. As border regions are developing, this case provides a successful and comprehensive approach to bi-national quality-of-life border indicators.


Life Satisfaction Border Region Objective Indicator Subjective Indicator Border City 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Devon McAslan
    • 1
  • Mihir Prakash
    • 1
  • David Pijawka
    • 2
    Email author
  • Subhrajit Guhathakurta
    • 3
  • Edward Sadalla
    • 4
  1. 1.Urban and Environmental PlanningArizona State UniversityTempeUSA
  2. 2.School of Geographical Sciences and Urban PlanningArizona State UniversityTempeUSA
  3. 3.School of City and Regional PlanningGeorgia Institute of TechnologyAtlantaUSA
  4. 4.Psychology Department, School of SustainabilityArizona State UniversityTempeUSA

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