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Concept of Livability and Indicators

WHY LIVABILITY MATTERS

Concept of Livability

“Livability” is a broad term with no precise or universally agreed-upon definition. The concept embraces cognate notions such as sustainability, quality of life, the “character” of place, and the health of communities. Livability is an “ensemble concept” (Myers, 1988; Andrews, 2001) whose factors include many complex characteristics and states. Like the Bruntland Commission’s definition of sustainability, the idea of livability includes the ability of a community to meet “the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (World Commission on Environment and Development, 1987, p. 23). Sustainability underscores the demand for intergenerational equity and recognizes the limits set by ecological conditions such as the finite nature of certain natural resources like fossil fuels.

Livability encompasses broad human needs ranging from food and basic security to beauty, cultural expression, and a sense of belonging to a community or a place. “Quality of life” emerged as a concept within the Social Indicators Movement of the 1960s and questioned basic assumptions about the relationship between economic and social well-being and the complex nature of individual and social material and immaterial well-being. Quality of life might refer to a citizen’s satisfaction with residential environments, traffic, crime rate, employment opportunities, or the



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