Planning for Happy Neighborhoods

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

109 Scopus citations


Problem, research strategy, and findings: There is increasing interest in planning for healthy communities, but little is known about how planners can affect mental health and wellbeing in neighborhoods, although much is known about how planners can affect physical health through neighborhood design. In this review essay, we draw lessons from a cross-disciplinary set of studies to reveal how the neighborhood built environment may affect one aspect of residents' wellbeing: happiness. Providing residents access to open, natural, and green space may directly increase their happiness. Incorporating design features that allow for social interaction and safety also may promote residents' happiness. Takeaway for practice: Planners have the capacity to contribute to greater opportunities for happiness in neighborhoods. Strategies include integrating happiness-related indicators into health impact assessments and employing a new, participatory neighborhood planning process, the Sustainability Through Happiness Framework.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)267-279
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of the American Planning Association
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2 2016


  • built environment
  • happiness
  • life satisfaction
  • neighborhood
  • subjective wellbeing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Development
  • Urban Studies
  • Geography, Planning and Development


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