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The Happiness of Cities

Public lecture hosted by LSE Cities

In this LSE Cities public lecture Ed Glaeser looked at the happiness of residents in big cities.

Residents of cities typically earn higher wages, but are they any happier? According to surveys on life satisfaction, American cities were once less happy than rural areas. Industrial areas seem once to have paid wages that were high enough for their residents to put up with a little misery, but this is no longer true. The unhappier cities of America’s industrial heartland have shrunk, while the happier cities have grown, and today there is no relationship between city size and self-reported life satisfaction within the U.S. The developing world today appears to be reversing the Western industrial pattern of happy farms/unhappy cities, with far higher levels of life satisfaction in urban areas.

Image: Thomas Hawk

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  • Ed Glaeser

    Ed Glaeser

    Edward Glaeser is the Fred and Eleanor Glimp Professor of Economics in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University, where he has taught since 1992. He is Director of the Rappaport Institute of Greater Boston. He regularly teaches microeconomic theory, and occasionally urban and public economics. He has published dozens of papers on cities, economic growth, and law and economics. In particular, his work has focused on the determinants of city growth and the role of cities as centers of idea transmission. He received his PhD from the University of Chicago in 1992.

  • Ricky Burdett

    Ricky Burdett

    Ricky Burdett is Professor of Urban Studies at LSE and Director of the Urban Age and LSE Cities, a global centre of research and teaching at LSE which received the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education 2016-18. He is a member of the Mayor of London’s Cultural Leadership Board, Council Member of the Royal College of Art and a Trustee of the Norman Foster Foundation. He was Director of the Venice International Architecture Biennale and Curator of the Global Cities Exhibition Tate Modern in London. He was a member of the UK Government Airport Commission (2012-2015) and a member of UK Government’s Urban Task Force. In 2014, Burdett was a Visiting Professor in Urban Planning and Design at the Graduate School of Design, Harvard University and Global Distinguished Professor at New York University (2010-2014). Alongside his academic activities, Burdett acts as a consultant to national and city governments, private companies and philanthropic agencies. He was Chief Adviser on Architecture and Urbanism for the 2012 London Olympics and Adviser on Architecture and Urbanism, Mayor of London (2001-2006). He is co-editor of ‘Shaping Cities in an Urban Age’ (2018), ‘The SAGE Handbook of the 21st Century’ (2017), ‘Living in the Endless City’ (2011) and ‘The Endless City’ (2007). Burdett was appointed CBE in the 2017 New Year’s Honours list for services to urban design and planning.