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The 2020 World Happiness Report suggests that rural residents in Northern and Western Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand are generally happier than their urban counterparts. Similar findings have been reported in country-level studies and broader regional research, especially in Europe. Such findings go against conventional wisdom in the field and represent something of a conundrum to researchers and policymakers alike: the rural–urban happiness paradox. Is quality of life really better in the countryside? How and under which circumstances is this the case? Did influential writers like Edward Glaeser get it all wrong when suggesting that the city had now triumphed? What can we learn from digging deeper in the rural–urban happiness paradox and which critical questions does this leave us with for the future? What might policymakers, planners, architects and other influential actors learn from such an exercise? The purpose of the proposed book is to delve deeper into these matters by asking what quality of life in rural areas is actually all about. Since 2018 a cross-disciplinary team of researchers from four research environments at three Danish universities has been carrying out an ambitious research project to do just that. In this edited volume their findings are presented alongside chapters written by specially commissioned international authors from across Europe, North America, Asia and Africa.

Pia Heike Johansen
,
Jens Kaae Fisker
,
Henrik Lauridsen Lolle
,
Anne Tietjen
, and
Evald Bundgård Iversen

The rural–urban happiness paradox In 2018 the Danish philanthropic foundation Realdania conducted a survey asking 7,090 people about their satisfaction with life. Confirming prior suspicions, the survey showed that rural dwellers in communities with fewer than 200 inhabitants more frequently reported a high quality of life (82 per cent) than both the national average (76

in Rural quality of life
Vanya Kovačič

patients returned to their homes and started their lives again outside the hospital walls that both protected and restricted them. The patients’ reflections – mostly collected two to three years after their discharge – are presented in this chapter. Victims of war and the notion of the quality of life When exploring the participants’ daily lives, the concept of the quality of life

in Reconstructing lives
Gervase Rosser

for public spaces, for common interests in food supply, water and health, and for the quality of life in the town. It is illuminating to consider the range of urban and environmental matters for which city rulers were willing and even anxious to take responsibility. An instance of communal urban planning on a relatively grand scale is the city of Bristol’s extension of its harbour, for evident economic

in Towns in medieval England
Mark Scott

Introduction This chapter focuses on the role of spatial planning in enhancing or eroding quality of life in rural regions and localities. Planning is central to the spatial governance of rural territories in terms of managing spatial change processes, balancing competing and emerging demands for rural space, and guiding the use of land as a

in Rural quality of life
Maria Christina Crouch
and
Jordan P. Lewis

directly impinged upon by colonisation. Evidence of change exists in outward migration, climate change, health disparities and Western systems of health, learning and knowledge (Napoleon, 2013 ; Oré et al., 2016 ). Resilience, success and quality of life are evident in community resources, inward migration and the cultural and contextual factors that comprise tribal group identity

in Rural quality of life
The case of Denmark
Rolf Lyneborg Lund

, 2012 ). Overall, these studies focus on neighbourhood and are all informed by information either inherent in, or social phenomena that occur around, the neighbourhood. Quality of life often fits in either of these categories but is often overlooked. There are two overall reasons for the lack of studies within this field. The first revolves around the information needed to measure

in Rural quality of life
The contribution of sports and physical activity
Rochelle Eime
,
Jack Harvey
,
Melanie Charity
, and
Hans Westerbeek

Introduction People can be physically active in their leisure time in many different ways, ranging from organised sports such as football and tennis to informal physical activity (PA) such as walking. In addition to the physical health benefits of participation, there is increasing evidence of broader health benefits (HR quality of life) of

in Rural quality of life
Evald Bundgård Iversen
,
Michael Fehsenfeld
, and
Bjarne Ibsen

Introduction It has been shown that self-reported quality of life is higher in rural areas than in the city in Denmark (Sørensen, 2018 ; Lolle & Andersen, 2019 ), as well as in other national contexts in the global North (Okulicz-Kozaryn, 2015 ; Burger et al., 2020 ; Dijkstra, 2020 ; Gilbert et al., 2016 ; Viganò et al., 2019 ). In this

in Rural quality of life
Nick Gallent

Introduction The chapter is concerned with the contribution of affordable housing to quality of life in England’s rural amenity areas , where a combination of planning constraint, low in-area earnings and market intrusion may conspire to lock sections of the population out of the mainstream ‘open’ housing market. These areas are characterised

in Rural quality of life