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Well balanced cities have lower levels of inequality, according to research

Cities that have a good balance between green spaces, housing and amenities have lower levels of socio-economic inequality in the life satisfaction of its residents, according to new research.

The study, which was led by researchers from the University of Glasgow, was the first of its kind to consider how urban landscape affects inequalities in life satisfaction, and not just life satisfaction itself.

The study looked at the city environment of 66 cities across Europe, including how much green space the city had, how much of the city was tarmacked and how much dense housing there was.

Cities with an even distribution of facilities, housing and green space were linked with lower levels of inequality between residents’ life satisfaction levels, suggesting that more equal access to a range of facilities and types of land may help reduce the gap in life satisfaction between the most economically-deprived and most affluent residents of a city.

The study also found that there was a strong link between higher life satisfaction and living in cities with homes surrounded by natural green space.

Residents of Zurich reported the highest satisfaction and the residents of Athens the least.

Dr Jonathan Olsen said: ‘The findings of our study suggest that urban planning has a large role to play in addressing inequalities in cities.

‘Until now there has been a strong focus on green space and housing density, but from this research we can see that this is not the whole picture. Urban environments are complex, with a huge range in types of space and function; they are not simply either green or grey, or more or less densely settled.

‘Our cities are continuously evolving and there is ample opportunity to ensure these are healthier and happier place to live’

Co-author Professor Rich Mitchell, added: ‘What people want or need from their city varies moment to moment, day to day, life stage to life stage. If a city is varied enough to offer people what they need, when they need it, it is likely to support a higher quality of life.’

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