The City Life Brings out the Ugly

We all have a point in our lives were one feels down or is at a rut in thier life but could this be because of one’s own surroundings? In the scholarly article “Urbanism and happiness: A test of Wirth’s theory of urban life” by Adam Okulicz-Kozaryn and Joan Maya Mazelis the question asked that is being studied is “how does the modern world affect those who live in it?”(Mazelis). This article focuses on city dwellers and how their lives are ultimately affected. The study looks into if “is it cities themselves, in terms of size, density, and heterogeneity, that lead to unhappiness, or is it problems people typically associate with cities — notably poverty, crime and lack of support — that make people unhappy?” (Mazelis). People are less happy when living in cities versus rural areas or suburban areas due to high density population leading to other variables. Happiness is the ultimate goal in life and if city life is making humans unhappy why do we continue to move out of rural areas into major cities.

Mazelis writes that as human biengs we cannot handle the sensory overload that is inevitable in cities by writing “The first urban sociologists proposed that urbanization created malaise (unhappiness) because of the core characteristics of cities: increased population size created anonymity and impersonality, density created sensory overload and withdrawal from social life, and heterogeneity led to anomie and deviance” and “shows that the abundance of choice, exemplified in cities, often leads to depression, loneliness, anxiety and stress”(Mazelis). High population and density can cause a feeling of claustrophobia. What I mean by this is humans cannot take so much interaction with so many people continuously. We need time and space for ourselves to be able to process what has gone on throughout the day and living in cities does not allow for this. City life creates a necessity for a strict schedule and common routine that everyone follows creating an almost robotic lifestyle that makes human emotion disappear. People begin to think less and go with the motions that an “urban lifestyle” has created for them. Not only is there more people in cities but there is more visual stimulation for the brain to process more advertisements (we view about 3000 adverts every day), flashing lights, people, etc. and not to forget all the noise pollution we hear every single day leading for many to feel unhappy.

New York City Cross Walk.

Psychological overload caused by over population and high density of city dwellers leads to other factors like poverty, crime, and segregation of economic class. Mazelis introduces what is called moral disorder, meaning, “Cities generate moral disorder: misunderstandings, tension and conflict” and “There is more crime in cities than there is elsewhere, and high crime predicts poor health” (Mazelis). Cities are known for consumption and materialism because of the industries that dominate in cities and because of such industries like Los Angeles and the entertainment industry, or New York and the Fashion industry. ‘Progress in standard of living and urbanization are closely related, leading some scholars to conclude that we are happier in cities than we are elsewhere (Glaeser, 2011); this is not so. In fact, Americans have not become any happier over time (Easterlin, 1974), and we are, on average, the least happy in cities” (Mazelis). The struggle to live like the one percent in the world cannot be more evident than in cities. We look to these one percent people and aim to get their success and suffer either health wise or psychologically making some to be depressed and anxious or to turn to the life of crime.

A Busy Street in a Mega City

Although city life remains to attract many to leave their rural towns to make it to the city, urbanization has led city dwellers to be more unhappy than rural towns people. In Mazelis’ study we learn through scientific study that “Regardless of the fact that urban life has much to offer residents, there is a consensus emerging among scholars that city living makes us, on average, unhappy and unhealthy” (Mazelis). There is room for further study to find out more about city dwellers’ unhappiness and the to be performed on a larger scale to further understand that people who live in cities are less happy due to the high density and population. Urbanization not only has caused for physical and economic damages to people but mental ones as well. There must be a call to action for the reversal or ending of the negative effects urbanization has caused for the United States and even the world.


Works Cited
Kukreja, Rinkesh. “Causes, Effects and Solutions to Urbanization.” Conserve Energy Future. N.p. Web. 05 Mar. 2017.
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