Does nature make us happier? A spatial error model of greenspace types and mental wellbeing

Victoria Houlden*, João Porto de Albuquerque, Scott Weich, Stephen Jarvis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Exposure to nature is thought to benefit mental health and wellbeing. However, many studies consider greenspace as a single entity, which overlooks the potential significance of the various forms of greenspace, and natural greenspaces in particular. This study was designed to investigate the association between different types of greenspace and mental wellbeing. Drawing wellbeing and socioeconomic data from the Annual Population Survey (2012–2015), and shapefiles from the Greenspace Information for Greater London group, the amount of greenspace accessible within a 300 m walk of individual’s postcodes was calculated, and categorised according to type. Spatial Error Models were used to account for spatial patterns in the data. Natural greenspace was significantly associated with improved life satisfaction (B = 0.028, p < 0.001) and happiness (B = 0.023, p = 0.019) scores. The spatial autoregressive parameter (Formula presented.) was small but significant (p < 0.001), implying slight second-order spatial variation in the model. These results imply that natural areas may be more important for hedonic mental wellbeing than other greenspaces. Future research is needed on exploring causal relationships between exposure to greenspace and mental wellbeing outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)655-670
Number of pages16
JournalEnvironment and Planning B: Urban Analytics and City Science
Issue number4
Early online date12 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - May 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: Victoria is supported through a Centre for Doctoral Training by a UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) grant. Grant number: EP/LO16400/1.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2019.


  • built environment
  • GIS
  • Greenspace
  • urban planning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Architecture
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Urban Studies
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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