Public parks and wellbeing in urban areas of the United States

Lincoln R. Larson, Viniece Jennings, Scott Cloutier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

52 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Sustainable development efforts in urban areas often focus on understanding and managing factors that influence all aspects of health and wellbeing. Research has shown that public parks and green space provide a variety of physical, psychological, and social benefits to urban residents, but few studies have examined the influence of parks on comprehensive measures of subjective wellbeing at the city level. Using 2014 data from 44 U.S. cities, we evaluated the relationship between urban park quantity, quality, and accessibility and aggregate self-reported scores on the Gallup-Healthways Wellbeing Index (WBI), which considers five different domains of wellbeing (e.g., physical, community, social, financial, and purpose). In addition to park-related variables, our best-fitting OLS regression models selected using an information theory approach controlled for a variety of other typical geographic and socio-demographic correlates of wellbeing. Park quantity (measured as the percentage of city area covered by public parks) was among the strongest predictors of overall wellbeing, and the strength of this relationship appeared to be driven by parks' contributions to physical and community wellbeing. Park quality (measured as per capita spending on parks) and accessibility (measured as the overall percentage of a city's population within mile of parks) were also positively associated with wellbeing, though these relationships were not significant. Results suggest that expansive park networks are linked to multiple aspects of health and wellbeing in cities and positively impact urban quality of life.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0153211
JournalPLoS One
Volume11
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016

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urban areas
Information Theory
Conservation of Natural Resources
Health
Quality of Life
Demography
Psychology
social benefit
Information theory
Research
Population
quality of life
sustainable development
Sustainable development
demographic statistics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

Cite this

Public parks and wellbeing in urban areas of the United States. / Larson, Lincoln R.; Jennings, Viniece; Cloutier, Scott.

In: PLoS One, Vol. 11, No. 4, e0153211, 01.04.2016.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Larson, Lincoln R. ; Jennings, Viniece ; Cloutier, Scott. / Public parks and wellbeing in urban areas of the United States. In: PLoS One. 2016 ; Vol. 11, No. 4.
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