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Defence of dissertation in the field of strategic spatial planning, Tomas Hanell, M.Sc. (Econ.)

New Regional Quality of Life Index: 64 indicators across 195 EU regions, Nordic regions rank highest, urban areas underperform.
Kaupunki

The public examination of the doctoral dissertation of Tomas Hanell, M.Sc. (Econ.), will be held on 19 October 2018 at 12.00 at the Aalto University School of Engineering. The title of the dissertation is Regional Quality of Life in the EU. Comprehending the European space beyond GDP through the capability approach. Field of the dissertation is strategic spatial planning, geography of quality of life.

Depictions of the EU territory have hitherto been based on an extremely limited interpretation of societal and human development. In this study, 64 subjective and objective variables are for the first time aggregated into an overall metric: the Regional Quality of Life Index. Data are available for 195 regions covering all 28 EU Member States. The included variables focus on human capabilities and cover the following themes: material living conditions; work (incl. quality of employment); physical and mental health; education; leisure and social interactions; economic and physical safety; governance and basic rights; as well as the environment.

Danish, Finnish and Swedish regions generally rank high, and of all EU regions, North Jutland in Denmark has the highest quality of life. As urbanisation and economic strength are demonstrably assessed to have little to do with the quality of life of citizens, most metropolitan areas in Western Europe score fairly low. In the UK, quality of life is lowest in London (EU rank 127). In France, the same applies to Paris (134). Amsterdam (48), Vienna (86) and Lisbon (128) also occupy the lowest rankings within their respective countries. For the largest metropolitan areas, quality of life is hampered e.g. by large income inequality, shortage of living space, long working hours and poor work-life balance, long commuting, lack of supportive personal networks, crime and vandalism, social tension (particularly between religious groups), or poor air quality.

Finally, the implications of conducting development policy without the capacity to assess its outcome are discussed. The analysis demonstrates consistently that regional indicators currently in use for evaluating the progress of the Europe 2020 Strategy and for determining Structural Fund eligibility are not able to address regional levels of quality of life in the EU, despite that these instruments and strategies explicitly claim to do so.

Opponent: Professor Markku Sotarauta, School of Management, University of Tampere, Finland

Supervisor: Professor Raine Mäntysalo, Aalto University School of Engineering, Department of Built Environment

Custos: Professor Marketta Kyttä, Aalto University School of Engineering, Department of Built Environment

Electronic dissertation:  https://aaltodoc.aalto.fi/handle/123456789/34080

Doctoral candidate’s contact information: Tomas Hanell, Aalto University, [email protected], phone +358-45-651 9120

Place of the defence: Auditorium K216, Aalto University School of Engineering, Department of Built Environment, Otakaari 4, 02150 Espoo, Finland