Four Research Studies on the Importance of Beautiful Cities


Research studies continually underscore the importance of urban aesthetics to humankind.  Below are summaries of four such studies. To read the complete research report of any of the four, click on the title.



  •  Beautiful Places: The Role of Perceived Aesthetic Beauty in Community Satisfaction 1 – “Research, across various social science fields, finds that beauty has a significant effect on various economic and social outcomes. Our research uses a large survey sample of individuals across US locations to examine the effects of beauty and aesthetics on community satisfaction…The findings confirm that perceived beauty or aesthetic character of a location has a positive and significant effect on perceived community satisfaction. It is one of the most significant factors…”



  • People and Places: Public Attitudes to Beauty 2  –  “We would like readers to take away from this report a sense that the public recognise the time and attention that the subject of beauty deserves and that they are ready to see public figures and influencers taking beauty seriously … They believe that beauty is important in their local area and there is a strong consensus for striving for more beauty in neighbourhoods, towns and cities…A striking example of how much people believe that beauty matters is the way they discuss its importance for younger and future generations.”



  • Understanding the Pursuit of Happiness in Ten Major Cities3 – "The more respondents felt their city was beautiful (aesthetics), felt it was clean (aesthetics and safety), and felt safe walking at night (safety), the more likely they were to report being happy… It is important to again note that respondents who felt their cities were “beautiful” also were happier. Aesthetics clearly do matter."



  • City Beautiful 4  – “Beautiful cities disproportionally attracted highly educated individuals and experienced faster housing price appreciation… Rents, incomes, and educational attainment increased faster in such “beautiful neighborhoods” … Today, urban scholars and policymakers are coalescing into a new “City Beautiful” perspective. Cities around the world have attempted to leverage public investments in leisure spaces and beautification to spur demographic change and economic development."





1. Richard Florida, Charlotta Mellander, and Kevin Stolarick, Beautiful Places: The Role of Perceived Aesthetic Beauty in Community Satisfaction, Toronto: Martin Prosperity Institute, Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto, 2009.


2. People and Places: Public Attitudes to Beauty, London: Ipsos MORI Social Research Institute on behalf of the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE), 2010.


3. Kevin M. Leyden, Abraham Goldberg and Philip Michelbach, Understanding the Pursuit of Happiness in Ten Major Cities, Urban Affairs Review, originally published 28 April 2011.


4. Gerald A. Carlino Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia and Albert Saiz The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, Working Paper No. 08-22—City Beautiful, Research Department of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, September 2008.