Cities & Happiness

Why do so many people move into the city?

Naturally, living in the city also offers many advantages. Many people move into the city because it provides them with better job opportunities. Furthermore, the city offers a diversity of amenities which simply do not exist in more rural towns. There is the opera, the theatre, the museum, or simply the possibility to visit restaurants of each nationality. First living in the city promises much excitement. The city, however, does not only offer lots of entertainment-options but also a diversity of education. There is a range of different schools, academics, training centres and universities. Although the city has advantages, Okulicz-Kozaryn considers the disadvantages to outweigh them.

Attraction of the City: a status symbol

The city has an enormously strong attraction. Consider New York: there were round 53,3 million visitors in the year 2013, round 8,4 million people live currently in New York City. According to the consulting company Mercer, New York City is only ranked number 44 in cities with the highest quality of living. Cities are political and/ or economic centres or represent its status in another way (Paris as the city of love or Milan as the fashion-city). By this mean they symbolize power and exactly this causes attraction. People who live in such cities can define themselves by it and therefore they get some of the city´s glamour. “People strive for power and status” Okulicz-Kozaryn expresses. Living in a city is comparable to luxury items, which attract precisely because they are expensive. The city´s glamour, however, is illusory. Okulicz-Kozaryn compares city with capitalism, which equally exploits people. For some time it satisfies certain needs and pleasures. In the long term, however, people achieve neither a higher life satisfaction nor more happiness.

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  • Prof. Dr. Andrew Oswald Professor of Economics, University of Warwick
  • Prof. Dr. Ronnie Schöb Professor for International Public Economics, Free University Berlin
  • Prof. Dr. Ruut Veenhoven Emeritus Professor Social Conditions of Human Happiness, Erasmus University Rotterdam
  • Prof. Dr. Carmelo Vazquez President of the International Positive Psychology association
  • Prof. Dr. Marc Hassenzahl Folkwang University Essen
  • Dr. Martijn Burger Academic Director Erasmus Happiness Economics Research Organisation
  • Dr. Adam Okulicz Kozaryn Researcher Rutgers University
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