Here’s the abstract for a new paper on said with Charlotta Mellander and Kevin Stolarick.
Economists have argued that individuals choose locations that maximize their economic position and broad utility. Sociologists have found that social networks and social interactions shape our satisfaction with our communities. Research, across various social science fields, finds that beauty has a significant effect on various economic and social outcomes. Our research uses a large survey sample of individuals across US locations to examine the effects of beauty and aesthetics on community satisfaction. We test for these effects in light of other community-level factors such as economic security and employment opportunities; the supply of public goods; the ability for social exchange, that is to meet people and make friends; artistic and cultural opportunities, and outdoor recreation; as well as individual demographic characteristics such as gender, age, presence of children, length of residence, income and education levels, and housing values. The findings confirm that perceived beauty or aesthetic character of a location has a positive and significant effect on perceived community satisfaction. It is one of the most significant factors alongside economic security, good schools, and the perceived capacity for social interaction. We also find community-level factors to be significantly more important than individual demographic characteristics in explaining community satisfaction.
The full paper is over at the MPI site, here.