Cityphilia and cityphobia: A multi-scalar search for city love in Flanders

Karima Kourtit*, Bart Neuts, Peter Nijkamp, Marie H. Wahlström

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Cities, towns, and rural areas form a complex spatial system influenced by governance, economic factors, and the perceptions of their residents. This paper introduces the concepts of 'cityphilia' and 'cityphobia' as metaphors for the spatial attraction and repulsion forces that shape local quality of life. It aims to create and validate an operational framework for understanding citizens' appreciation and attachment to their living environment, often referred to as 'city love.' This framework considers two key components, 'body' and 'soul,' encompassing both physical and social aspects. Building upon Charles Tiebout's work on the competitive attractiveness of cities and aligning with contemporary research on the geography of happiness, a conceptual model is developed and applied to identify and assess the components of city love using various indicators. These indicators encompass local attractiveness, local public expenditures, and inter-urban interdependencies. The model is empirically tested in the context of Flanders, Belgium, a region comprising 300 distinct municipalities, both urban and rural. A Beta regression model is employed, which incorporates spatial dependencies to examine multi-scalar effects on residential satisfaction. The results affirm the soundness of the 'city love' framework and emphasize the significance of central place systems in providing tangible and intangible well-being services to citizens within a hierarchical spatial structure. These findings carry notable implications for urban policy and management, shedding light on how local attractiveness and interdependence shape the well-being of residents in diverse urban and rural settings.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Urban Management
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 May 2024


  • Central place systems
  • City love
  • Happiness
  • Inter-urban attractiveness
  • Social cohesion
  • Well-being


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