This experiment is part of the Cities & Transportation Challenge Grant. Browse more projects

How commute and congestion affect happiness across American cities?

Raised of $2,476 Goal
Ended on 1/12/17
Campaign Ended
  • $321
  • 13%
  • Finished
    on 1/12/17

About This Project

Traffic on NJ-42 has inspired me to find out how much happiness I have lost there. We all commute (if we are lucky to have a job), and we are often (if not always) stuck in traffic, which makes us unhappy. Which US cities should we choose to live, and where in those cities should we live so that we can be happy? I will link commuting and congestion data with happiness data at county level in a statistical model (multilevel regression) to answer above questions.

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What is the context of this research?

I have been studying happiness with focus on cities, and found that people are least happy in largest cities. Arguably, one key nuisance is congestion. We know that out of all usual activities people are least happy during commute. But we do not know yet how congestion is related to happiness across US cities!

What is the significance of this project?

If you happen to drive on NJ-42, you may also wonder what is your happiness loss. The goal is to find out how much happiness we lose due to congestion and traffic. It is very important for each of us, as we all want to be happy! We deserve to know happiness cost of commute, and such knowledge will enable us to make informed decisions.

What are the goals of the project?

First, I will combine commute data with congestion data and happiness data across US counties. Then I will investigate the relationships. The goal is to find out the effect of congestion and commute on happiness, but also find out how urbanicity (central city, suburb, rural) affects happiness given congestion and traffic. For instance, are suburbanites less happy than urbanites if traffic is horrendous? Finally, I will zoom in onto several major cities such as Philadelphia and Dallas and contrast results with personal observations.


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This research does not require any additional equipment (I already own software and hardware). Data were already collected and are free to use. It will, however, require considerable time to combine and analyze the data. Project is carried out with support of Center for Urban Research and Education at Rutgers-Camden. And findings will be presented at two conferences: one specializing in happiness research (e.g., ISQOLS) and one specializing in urban or transportation research (e.g., UAA).

Endorsed by

I believe this research will be important for policy makers, transportation planners, and urban planners in general. Adam is an experienced happiness researcher and well positioned to undergo this research.
This is an interesting project, and the insights gained by this research will be important for urban transport planning. I have been working with Adam on one happiness research, and I believe that he is well positioned to carry out this project.
I believe this is an interesting project with a relevant and critical contribution to happiness studies.

Meet the Team

Adam Okulicz-Kozaryn
Adam Okulicz-Kozaryn
Assistant Professor

Adam Okulicz-Kozaryn

I was born in unhappy Poland in 1979, and emigrated to happy United States in 2003. Now I am assistant professor of public policy at Rutgers University–Camden. I mostly study urbanism and happiness. I also do computational social science using Linux, Python and Stata. Read more at my website.

Lab Notes

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Project Backers

  • 10Backers
  • 13%Funded
  • $321Total Donations
  • $32.10Average Donation
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