Study shows direct link between pollution and happiness levels

Air pollution makes people unhappy as well as harming their health, researchers have claimed.

Researchers at MIT and the University of Beijing discovered a direct link between the amount of particulates in the air and happiness.

Studies have previously shown that air pollution is damaging to health, cognitive performance, labour productivity and educational outcomes.

But air pollution also has a broader impact on people’s social lives and behaviour, according t the study reported by the Telegraph.

Siqi Zheng, the Samuel Tak Lee Associate Professor in MIT’s Department of Urban Studies, said: “Pollution also has an emotional cost. People are unhappy, and that means they may make irrational decisions.”

The researchers used pollution data from 144 Chinese cities and monitored general happiness of urban dwellers by looking at the mood using 210 million messages from China’s largest microblogging platform, Sina Weibo.

They found a significantly negative correlation between pollution and happiness levels, with every increase in pollution above a healthy level bringing happiness down by 0.04 points out of 100.

Women were found to me more sensitive to higher pollution levels than men, as were those on higher incomes.

The research was published in the journal Nature Human Behaviour.