article publié dans la revue Psychological science, 2013, april
Urbanization is a potential threat to mental health and well-being. Cross-sectional evidence suggests that living closer to urban green spaces, such as parks, is associated with lower mental distress. However, earlier research was unable to control for time-invariant heterogeneity (e.g., personality) and focused on indicators of poor psychological health. The current research advances the field by using panel data from over 10,000 individuals to explore the relation between urban green space and well-being (indexed by ratings of life satisfaction) and between urban green space and mental distress (indexed by General Health Questionnaire scores) for the same people over time. Controlling for individual and regional covariates, we found that, on average, individuals have both lower mental distress and higher well-being when living in urban areas with more green space. Although effects at the individual level were small, the potential cumulative benefit at the community level highlights the importance of policies to protect and promote urban green spaces for well-being.