Where Are People Happier: City or Suburbs?

October 31, 2019
City Girl
Image by Oleksy @Ohurtsov from Pixabay

Journey's "city boy" and "small town girl" might have more in common than just a midnight train ride. A new study found that urbanites and suburbanites share many daily activities, and the time spent on them is remarkably similar, dispelling some stereotypes about each groups. The study also found that whether people were happy or not depended less on where they lived, and more on five key factors: eating and drinking, exercise and outdoor pursuits, arts and culture, volunteering, and religious participation.

People who live in cities spend their time eating in restaurants, visiting art galleries, attending concerts, and hanging out with friends; they walk or take transit for short commutes to work. Americans who live in suburbs don’t socialize as much, are less physically active, and have long car commutes.


We all have our convenient stereotypes. Now, a new study has come along to bust some of these apart. Eric A. Morris, who teaches urban planning at Clemson University, has found that urbanites and suburbanites are remarkably similar in how they apportion their time on a day-to-day basis.


In his study—the basis of a paper published recently in the journal Cities—Morris used data from the American Time Use Survey (ATUS), which is conducted annually by the U.S. Census Bureau and Bureau of Labor Statistics, and covers some 13,500 Americans per year. It asks them detailed questions about how they spent their time on the day before being surveyed, and how happy or satisfied they are with their daily lives.

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