Walkable Neighborhoods: Linkages Between Place, Health, and Happiness in Younger and Older Adults
Author ORCID Identifier
Civil engineering, Municipal and structural engineering, Transport engineering
Problem, research strategy, and findings: We examined whether living in a walkable neighborhood influenced the happiness of younger and older city residents. The data for this study came from a comprehensive household population survey of 1,064 adults living in 16 neighborhoods in Dublin City (Ireland) and its suburbs. We used multigroup structural equation modeling to analyze the direct and indirect effects of walkability on happiness, mediated by health, trust, and satisfaction with neighborhood appearance. We found living in a walkable neighborhood was directly linked to the happiness of people aged 36 to 45 (p¼.001) and, to a lesser extent, those aged 18 to 35 (p¼.07). For older adults, we found that walkable places mattered for happiness indirectly. Such built environments enhanced the likelihood that residents felt more healthy and more trusting of others, and this in turn affected the happiness of older people living in walkable neighborhoods.
Takeaway for practice: We found that the way neighborhoods are planned and maintained mattered for happiness, health, and trust. Our findings suggest that mixed-use neighborhood designs that enable residents to shop and socialize within walking distance to their homes have direct and indirect effects on happiness. We call for an ongoing dialogue and evaluation of the way our urban and suburban neighborhoods are planned, designed, and developed, so that people can live in walkable places that better enable health and wellbeing.
Kevin M. Leyden, Michael J. Hogan, Lorraine D’Arcy, Brendan Bunting & Sebastiaan Bierema (2023) Walkable Neighborhoods, Journal of the American Planning Association, DOI: 10.1080/01944363.2022.2123382
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Journal of the American Planning Association