Quality of life is increasingly recognised as a vital component of sustainable urban development. Indicators are used to assess quality of life and to monitor progress towards sustainability over time. An emerging body of literature contends that these indicators need to be derived in close consultation with target populations in order to optimise the extent to which they capture the real determinants of quality of life in particular places. Furthermore, quality of life considerations vary significantly across urban neighbourhoods and consequently the spatial scale at which such studies are conducted may have significant implications for the results obtained. This study focuses on spatial variations in quality of life in Galway, a city of approximately 70,000 people, situated on the west coast of Ireland. Galway is reported as having an exceptionally high quality of life, however, significant variations are found to exist across city neighbourhoods. Factors contributing to this spatial pattern are explored in this paper. An important lesson emerging from this study is that quality of life indicators derived at the neighbourhood level are of utmost importance when assessing the reality of living in different urban settings.
Ireland, quality of life indicators, scale, sustainable urban communities
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