Experts have found that living in a neighborhood that has fewer crime and a cleaner environment is better for people, particularly when it comes to happiness.
But what happens when you move from a better neighborhood to a less-great neighborhood?
The study by Johns Hopkins University researchers finds that people who moved from better neighborhoods to a neighborhood with less crime, which had lower levels of crime, experienced greater happiness and fewer negative life events than people who stayed put.
The researchers analyzed the effects of the neighborhood on four measures: life satisfaction, physical health, economic well-being, and social capital.
They found that people living in the neighborhood were happier than people living elsewhere and had fewer negative outcomes than people in other neighborhoods.
“It’s important to note that there is a continuum of how well these neighborhoods did on measures of health and life satisfaction,” said Dr. Matthew D. D’Angelo, the lead author of the study.
“One-quarter of our participants were in good neighborhoods, while half of them were in poor neighborhoods.
It’s not necessarily a matter of being in the right neighborhood at the right time.
We’re talking about life experiences and health.”
The researchers used data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, a longitudinal study of the health and behavior of 1,300 young adults in the United States, the Netherlands, and Britain.
The researchers collected data on the physical health of people in the study as well as their life experiences, such as family and community members’ health, education, income, race and ethnicity, and income and wealth.
“The best predictor of happiness and happiness with a family, life experiences in general, and life events in general is the ability to live in the community,” said D’Angelico.
“And the way that life experiences are related to the happiness of families and communities is through positive life events, not negative ones.
So people are better off if they can have a positive life event in their community and they can also have positive experiences in their neighborhood.”
He added, “When we look at the data on health and well-ness, the data shows that if you live in a more-than-good neighborhood, people are happier, more likely to be involved in social activities, and have higher life satisfaction than if they live in an area that is less-than good.”
The study also found that the effect of neighborhood on life satisfaction was stronger among people who were more educated, more affluent, and in the labor force than those who were less educated, less affluent, or unemployed.
People who were in better health and better-paying jobs were happier, D’angelo said.
And those who lived in less-expensive neighborhoods were happier and more likely than those in more expensive neighborhoods to be employed and have more education.
“When we’re looking at the happiness effect of a neighborhood, we don’t look at just how many lives are better, but how many of those lives are healthier,” he said.
“You might think that a neighborhood is better off in terms of health, but when you look at health and wellbeing, it’s about how you feel in those places.”
For more information on this study, see the study abstract at http://bit.ly/1MjXQXb.