EXETER, England, April 23 (UPI) -- People who live in cities with more green space reported less mental distress, better health, higher life satisfaction and income, British researchers say.
Mathew White and colleagues at the European Centre for Environment & Human Health at the University of Exeter Medical School examined data from a national longitudinal survey of households in Britain.
"Living in an urban area with relatively high levels of green space compared to one with relatively low levels of green space was associated with a positive impact on well-being equivalent to roughly a third of the impact of being married vs. unmarried and a tenth of the impact of being employed vs. unemployed," White said in a statement.
The study, published in Psychological Science, showed even if stacked up against other factors that contribute to life satisfaction, living in a greener area had a significant effect.
"These kinds of comparisons are important for policymakers when trying to decide how to invest scarce public resources, e.g. for park development or upkeep, and figuring out what 'bang' they'll get for their buck," White said.
Findings from previous research suggested a correlation between green space and well-being, but those studies weren't able to rule out the possibility that people with higher levels of well-being simply moved to greener areas, White said.
White and colleagues said they solved the problem by using longitudinal data from the national survey collected annually from more than 10,000 people from 1991-2008.