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20-08-2015 | Brief Communication | Uitgave 3/2016

Quality of Life Research 3/2016

Well-being and environmental quality: Does pollution affect life satisfaction?

Quality of Life Research > Uitgave 3/2016
Kati Orru, Hans Orru, Marek Maasikmets, Reigo Hendrikson, Mare Ainsaar



We aimed to explore the effect of ambient air pollution on individual persons’ levels of subjective well-being. Our research question was: to what extent is an individual’s life satisfaction shaped by exposure to PM10?


We used regression models to analyse data on subjective well-being indicators from the last two waves of the European social survey (ESS) and detailed information on local levels of the air pollutant PM10.


An increase in PM10 annual concentrations by 1 μg/m3 was associated with a significant reduction in life satisfaction of .017 points on the ESS 10-point life satisfaction scale.


Our findings suggest that even in cases of relatively low levels of PM10 air pollution (mean annual concentration of 8.3 ± 3.9 μg/m3), in addition to the effects on physical health, exposure negatively affects subjective assessments of well-being.

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