One of the most remarkable developments in social science in the past decade has been the emergence of happiness as a subject of serious scholarship and experimental study. This has been largely the work of behavioral economists, many of them psychologists by training, who have set out to investigate the everyday decisions people make and the repercussions those choices have on their future lives.
At the same time, on both the journalistic and academic fronts, cities have become a hot topic. The return to vitality of many of our largest urban centers has generated a slew of magazine articles and a series of general-interest books purporting to explain why we are experiencing this renewed energy and how it will unfold in the years to come.
It was only a matter of time before someone figured out that if there were new things to say about happiness and a new interest in the evolution of urban life, the two subjects could be linked together. That is what Charles Montgomery, a Canadian journalist, has set out to do in a book titled, logically enough, “Happy City.” To an admirable extent, he succeeds.