Misery Loves Company: Happiness and Communication in the City

A. Alshamsi, E. Awad, M. Almehrezi, V. Babushkin, P.-J. Chang, Z. Shoroye, A.-P. Toth, I. Rahwan


The high population density in cities confers many advantages, including improved social interaction and information exchange. However, it is often argued that urban living comes at the expense of reducing happiness. The goal of this research is to shed light on the relationship between urban communication and urban happiness. We analyze geo-located social media posts (tweets) within a major urban center (Milan) to produce a detailed spatial map of urban sentiments. We combine this data with high-resolution mobile communication intensity data among different urban areas. Our results reveal that happy (respectively unhappy) areas preferentially communicate with other areas of their type. This observation constitutes evidence of homophilous communities at the scale of an entire city (Milan), and has implications on interventions that aim to improve urban well-being.

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