The aim of this chapter is to draw on the Gallup World Poll to examine urban-rural happiness differentials across the world.[1] We begin with a general description of urban-rural differentials and gradually introduce more detail in order to reveal the complexity that underlines these differences. In particular, we contrast the differentials in North Western Europe and the Anglo-Saxon Western world with those in Sub-Saharan Africa and examine the degree to which these differentials are due to people-based place-based factors. For both cases we identify those whose well-being increases most in cities.

This chapter adds to the existing literature in several ways. First, we provide an empirical extension of the work by Easterlin, Angelescu and Zweig[2] on urban-rural happiness differentials by providing information on 150 countries. Second, we estimate the extent to which urban-rural differences in happiness are driven by place-based people-based factors. Third, we identify the degree to which certain groups are more likely to return higher levels of happiness in cities.

Department of Applied Economics

Burger, M.J, Morrison, P, Hendriks, M, & Hoogerbrugge, M.M. (2020). Urban-rural happiness differentials across the world. In World Happiness Report 2020. Retrieved from