Linking green space to health: a comparative study of two urban neighbourhoods in Ghent, Belgium

A. Van Herzele, S. de Vries

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

67 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This paper investigates the nature of the relationship between the greenness of the local environment and the health and well-being of its inhabitants by looking at a number of possible mediators within the same study: physical activity, perceived stress, ability to concentrate, social cohesion and neighbourhood satisfaction. Data were collected through a survey of residents in two neighbourhoods that differ objectively in green space provision, but which are largely similar in demographics, socio-economic factors, housing conditions and other environmental characteristics, apart from green space. Of the three dependent variables of interest: self-reported general health, bodily functioning and general well-being (happiness), it was self-reported happiness that differed significantly between the two neighbourhoods, with greater happiness in the greener neighbourhood. Amongst the possible mediators, people’s satisfaction with their neighbourhood differed significantly: those living in the greener neighbourhood were more satisfied. Mediation analysis indicated that neighbourhood satisfaction fully mediates the relationship between neighbourhood greenness and happiness. Among the specific (environmental and social) neighbourhood qualities asked about, perception of neighbourhood greenness was found to be the most important predictor of neighbourhood satisfaction. Additional analysis showed that the view from the living room—green or not green—fully mediates the relationship between neighbourhood greenness and neighbourhood satisfaction. This study underscores the importance of nearby green space for people’s overall well-being and suggests the need for green space to be evaluated in terms of visual proximity, that is, whether and how it is experienced from the street and the home
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)171-193
JournalPopulation and Environment
Volume34
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Keywords

  • self-rated health
  • quality-of-life
  • physical-activity
  • multilevel analysis
  • older-adults
  • inner-city
  • possible mechanism
  • built environment
  • common spaces
  • mental-health

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