Urbanity, Neighbourhood Characteristics and Perceived Quality of Life (QoL): Analysis of Individual and Contextual Determinants for Perceived QoL in 3300 Postal Code Areas in Finland

Mikko Weckroth*, Sanna Ala-Mantila, Dimitris Ballas, Thanasis Ziogas, Jonna Ikonen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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This analysis examines the geography of subjective wellbeing within a single country via a novel dataset consisting of more than 26,000 respondents embedded in 3100 postal code areas in Finland. We include a detailed indicator on the level of urbanity of the respondent’s location derived from a 250 × 250 m GIS grid, contextual measures of the postal code area´s socioeconomic status as well as proximity to the nearest urban locality and capital city. This analytical framework model makes it possible to examine both individual and contextual determinants for perceived quality of life (QoL). In addition, we include individual-level measures on mental health (Mental Health Inventory MHI-5) and satisfaction with housing and neighbourhood characteristics. The results show that when controlling for socioeconomic factors living in an inner urban area or a neighbourhood (postal code area) with a high unemployment rate are associated with lower QoL and. Also, the share of population with a tertiary education in a postal code area has a positive effect for individual QoL. However, the effects of inner urban living and unemployment rate become insignificant when including mental health indicators and perceived loneliness. In sum, the results confirm and add more detail to earlier findings on lower QoL in urban context and connect living in inner urban area to mental health indicators. As such, the analysis provides further evidence for the positive QoL effects of more rural living while having an access to health and other services.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139–164
Number of pages26
JournalSocial Indicators Research
Early online date2-Feb-2022
Publication statusPublished - Nov-2022


  • Geography of happiness
  • Quality of life
  • Urban happiness penalty
  • Urban–rural differences

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