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Europe’s capital cities and the happiness penalty: an investigation using the European Social Survey

Piper, Alan T. (2013): Europe’s capital cities and the happiness penalty: an investigation using the European Social Survey.

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Abstract

This study investigates in three steps whether there is an association between happiness and living in one of Europe’s capital cities. Making use of the European Social Survey, the first step is a raw unadjusted correlation assessment which finds a negative and statistically significant effect on happiness of living in one of Europe’s capitals. The second step is the addition of socio-economic controls which (overall) increases the happiness penalty associated with living in a European capital city. This picture, like that of the initial finding, is different in different capitals; however no capital is associated with higher levels of happiness than elsewhere in that country. The third step adds environmental factors and perceptions (safety of local area, worries about crime, for example) to control for potential confounding factors. Tentative evidence is also presented that this is not just a big city effect. Overall, there is a happiness penalty associated with living in Europe’s capitals though this result is dominated by a few particularly unhappy capitals.

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