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2023 | Book

Geography of Happiness

A Spatial Analysis of Subjective Well-Being


About this book

This book offers readers a spatial understanding of happiness and subjective well-being. By integrating spatial and geostatistical methods, it sheds new light on the spatial and geographical aspects of subjective well-being. Geographical analysis allows us to measure spatial and regional discrepancies in subjective well-being and to identify heterogeneous profiles in terms of social, economic and environmental patterns. Consequently, the papers gathered here address various topics concerning the spatial aspects of subjective well-being, including social injustice, age, new urban spaces, and tourism.

The book proposes a multidisciplinary approach and is intended for scholars and students in the fields of geography, economics and the spatial sciences. By examining several critical dimensions of happiness and subjective well-being, it enriches the complexity of regional decision-making on the path toward happier and more liveable societies.

Table of Contents

Happiness Geography: Defining the Field
Recent advances in spatial analysis have led to a growing interest in applying geocomputation methods to complex issues (Du et al. in Journal of Geovisualization and Spatial Analysis 4:1–25, 2020), often defined over large datasets framing socioeconomic variables.
Eric Vaz

Regional Challenges

A Spatial Analysis of the Instagram Hashtag #happy: An Assessment of Toronto
The advances in smartphones have allowed a pervasive creation of media content. In the case of Instagram, this digital content is image often with a charge of emotional content, allowing by means of textual analysis of specific hashtags to better understand subjective emotional states of users. I explore the use of Instagram, a leading photo-sharing application, to analyze the sentiment analysis of georeferenced data aligned to perception of happiness. This is achieved by images with a given hashtag related to textual interpretation of the state of subjective well-being. These hashtags are then geocoded, allowing conducting a spatially explicit exploratory assessment. (i) A first spatial construct is presented looking at the spatial autocorrelation patterns at global and local level. (ii) Following this, a land use analysis is carried forth as to understand the morphology of land use in the region. (iii) Finally, I construct a land use accounting proxy by means of correlation coefficients using Kendall tau-b correlation. The research is framed within the importance of adding large datasets of social media to the social sciences with geographical analysis offering a new definition for regional science.
Eric Vaz
The Subjective Well-Being in North Africa and the Impacts on Agriculture and Urban Land
The investigation of how people’s subjective well-being may have an impact on agriculture and its production processes require us to understand how agriculture and its products (especially food products) are appreciated and how people’s well-being can influence agriculture and its products. People’s well-being is presented by referring to the situation in several countries in North Africa and how it has influenced agricultural development especially in relation to agricultural products, including how the products are produced. People’s well-being can also affect how urban land and potential urban land are perceived, planned, and developed. Where land has not yet been developed for urban uses within a city or on the fringes of cities, the potential is there for such land to become part of urban agriculture, depending upon the characteristics of the land and how citizens via their well-being decide to support agricultural development particularly in relation to food production. In addition, agricultural development on potential urban land can contribute substantially to the well-being of several segments of the population. In our discussion, we provide different examples of how people’s well-being can at the same time contribute to sustainable agricultural production including food production and can therefore contribute to creating urban development in which “Urban” agricultural development can contribute substantially to sustainable urban development.
Azzeddine Bellout, Eric Vaz, Antonia Bousbaine, Christopher R. Bryant

Territorial Challenges

Researching Quality of Life in Old Age: Some Conceptual and Methodological Principles
QoL in old age is a topic with increasing prominence in the research and public policy agendas. However, it is not clear what we are talking about when we talk about QoL in old age, just as it is not clear how we can study it/evaluate it. This necessarily compromises the consolidation of this field of research. Based on a review of relevant literature, this chapter discusses the conceptualization of QoL in old age, as well as methodological aspects related to its empirical research. Based on this discussion, a set of conceptual and methodological principles is proposed in order to contribute to the maturation of this field of research. Both principles have an interdisciplinary basis, which is in line with the interdisciplinary nature of QoL in old age, which covers virtually all domains of life.
José de São José
Peripheral Retail Expansion: Social Implications and Spatial Inequalities the Case of the Île-de-France Region
Peripheral retail expansion is characterized by the continuous production of large car-dependent off-centre stores and leads to the destruction of small independent stores in suburban and rural areas. It is a major preoccupation for public authorities and residents as it affects the vitality and viability of neighbourhoods and the survival of spatially deprived areas. Our objective is to study off-centre retail expansion as a global mechanism of urban sprawl and its implication for equitable and sustainable development. We first survey the international literature on social and economic implications of retail expansion and its consequences for spatial equality. Then, on the basis of national and regional retail studies, local newspapers and financial analysts’ reports, we assess on the spatial and social effects of retail expansion on a local scale and at a regional level in the Île-de-France Paris region, over the 1975–2013 period. Finally, we produce spatial statistics using 1975–2013 databases on retail floorspace, numbers of large and small retail units and demographic and socio-economical characteristics in each of the 1281 municipalities. We aim at measuring and characterizing retail expansion and decentralization and its socio-economic consequences in the Ile-de-France region. We have concluded that retail expansion affects sustainability and equity by leading to social and spatial inequalities.
André Torre, Océane Peiffer-Smadja

Locational Challenges

Sustainable Cities, Quality of Life, and Mobility-Related Happiness
Cities are increasingly seen as people’s habitat. Citizen tend to regard urban life not only as a convenient way of finding a job or acquiring income, but also as a modus vivendi to enjoy a great variety of urban amenities (culture, friendship, entertainment, urban ‘ambiance’, etc.). Against this background, we observe a rapid rise in urban [un]happiness studies in relation to liveability and quality of life in cities. The present chapter focuses on urban mobility as a source of urbanites’ happiness (or lack thereof). It addresses related key issues from empirical research literature, including a brief overview of urban ‘slow motion’. The study concludes with a summary and a prospective view of future urban challenges in the context of social wellbeing.
Karima Kourtit, Peter Nijkamp, Marina Toger
Tourism, Climate Change and Well-Being: The Products’ Diversity as an Opportunity
Mediterranean destinations are mostly based on sun and beach tourism through the qualification of its coastal assets, which establishes a framework of low diversification of their regional socioeconomy that will encounter climate change as a challenge that could constitute a potential threat of disruptive impact to these regions, specially, when looking to the expected sea level rise and inherent beach area loss. Thereby, it becomes necessary to plan an adaptation pathway in order to enhance the regional resilience of the Mediterranean regions in a changing climate, not found on a contingency plan for survival, but grounded on an opportunistic strategy in favour of well-being and happiness. As such, the promotion of tourism product diversification could contribute to increment diversity and innovation, major contributory factors of regional resilience, so destinations can avoid decline facing future degradations. Hence, it is paramount to find alternative and sustainable tourism products beyond and beside sun and beach, mainly sustained on regional green infrastructure, which can only be put in place through the study of experts’ opinion about the suitability of tourism diversification within each Mediterranean region, the public actors’ awareness about the importance of resource enhancement in the context of sustainable tourism, and the willingness of tour operators to implement this diversification strategy of tourism products. Applied to the case study of a Mediterranean climate region, Algarve, southern Portugal, this chapter presents the experts, public actors and tour operators concerns about this opportunistic strategy that could improve the happiness of tourists through a diversified experience within the abiotic, biotic and cultural basis of each destination, and the well-being increase of residents that depend on tourism, so they can find, proactively, resilient and diverse ways of development.
André Samora-Arvela, Eric Vaz, Jorge Ferreira, Thomas Panagopoulos
Tourism, Senses and Well-Being
An emergent strand of research has highlighted the sensory dimension of place encounters as pivotal in the design of positive and memorable tourist experiences, which can be perceived as meaningful. The analysis of how stimuli in the environment such as colours, sounds, smells, flavours and textures can enhance individual experiences by focusing on distinctive and local resources is gaining increasing interest in research following an experiential approach to tourism. On the other hand, contemporary tourism studies have become more concerned with aspects related to human well-being. These efforts resulted in going beyond the hedonic perspective of well-being, which has been mostly associated with pleasure, emotional reactions and satisfaction derived from the tourist experience. Literature on subjective well-being has connected these aspects to perceived happiness, and recent studies have stressed the importance of addressing eudaimonic elements related to meaningfulness, self-realisation and personal growth. This chapter advocates that multi-sensory experiences have the potential to contribute to hedonic and eudaimonic outcomes, considering the complementary nature of both perspectives in examining the sense of well-being in tourism. This approach considers the multidisciplinary nature of well-being and human senses. Discussion can inform tourism research and practices.
Dora Agapito
Geography of Happiness
Eric Vaz
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