Lafarge's ambition, contributing to building better cities, implies the best possible understanding of urban citizens' expectations, which is why the Group decided to take the pulse of city residents. Innovating in order to provide solutions for more housing in cities, that are more compact, more durable, more beautiful and better connected, lies at the heart of Lafarge's strategy. Gaining deeper insight into how urban dwellers interact with where they live helps the Group innovate and provide solutions and services rising more effectively to the challenges of urbanization. Lafarge is publishing the results of an unprecedented international Ipsos survey of participants living in six cities around the world, namely Paris, Algiers, Chicago, Rio de Janeiro, Chongqing and Mumbai. It shows that close to nine in every ten urban dwellers are happy to live in their city!
HAPPINESS IS IN THE CITY: A GLOBAL TREND
Pollution, stress, traffic - are some of the words that often come to mind when one thinks of city life. Yet urban residents appear to appreciate life in their city. "That's the key learning from our survey, and it's crystal clear: in the six cities covered, close to 9 out of 10 residents (87 ) say they are happy to live in their city and close to one in two (46 ) are very happy!", explains Marcel Cobuz, Senior Vice President within Lafarge's Innovation function.
Urban citizens in emerging markets seem to be even happier with city life than their peers, with the inhabitants of Chongqing in China topping the rankings, ahead of those from Rio de Janeiro and Mumbai.
And what do people like most about living in their city? Above all, the city's beauty and historical heritage come ahead of the ability to travel around easily and employment opportunities.
Urban populations are happy living in their respective cities because they inspire feelings as strong as they are positive: 85 of them feel free, 77 a special bond and 80 pride! That being said, close to two-thirds of urban dwellers admit that city life can be stressful, although - surprisingly enough - only a minority of them (38 ) feel lonely.
Perhaps the best illustration of the enthusiasm residents feel for their city is that 80 of them have chosen to live in their city, where they feel well at home, compared with just 20 who tolerate their city and would like to leave. What's more, even if they could move, close to two out of three urban dwellers in the survey said they would stay in the same urban area - a sign of strong attachment to their city.
ALL AROUND THE GLOBE, URBAN POPULATIONS ARE OPTIMISTIC ABOUT THEIR CITY'S FUTURE
The second key point to emerge from the survey is that urban dwellers are not only happy with city life, they are also very optimistic about the future of their city. Over three-quarters of them feel their city is on the rise, compared with just one-quarter who believe it is in decline. People living in Chongqing and Rio seem to be most confident.
Today's urban residents believe that life will be better in tomorrow's cities. Over three in five think that their city will be more welcoming in 15 years' time for future generations, more environmentally friendly but also more beautiful.
POLLUTION, NOISE AND SECURITY: THE MAIN CHALLENGES FOR CITIES TO ADDRESS
Another major point revealed by the survey is that, for the six cities covered, pollution (43 ), noise (38 ) and safety (37 ) concerns represent the three top issues for inhabitants, ranking well ahead of problems related to finding somewhere to live, getting around, finding a job and lack of friendliness.
On closer inspection, there are material differences between cities. Pollution and noise were the primary complaints among respondents from the cities in Asia, while those from the Americas were most worried about security issues.
PARIS AND ITS SPECIFICITIES
In Paris, it is striking that finding accommodation is reported to be a problem by twice as many respondents as elsewhere (42 of Parisians cite this as a concern, compared with 21 in all six cities taken together). Lack of friendliness is also more of a concern in Paris than across all six cities (17 vs. 11 ).
In addition, Parisians stand out in terms of their positive appreciation towards their city's transport system. In all, 47 (compared with a survey-wide 34 ) think that being able to travel around easily is what they like most about where they live.
Lastly, almost one out of two participants in Paris (46 ) feels that their dream city is a place where they can easily find havens of tranquillity - a higher level than for all six cities at large (39 ).
THE URBAN CITIZENS' DREAM CITY WOULD BE SAFE, BEAUTIFUL, WITH A RICH CULTURAL LIFE
What would urban dwellers' dream city be like? What residents of the six cities covered by the survey want most is a safe city, as well as one that has a rich cultural life and is beautiful, too. It is interesting to see the extent to which these criteria are prized above living in a modern, economically thriving and environmentally friendly city. Our survey also reflects the complex relationship between urban dwellers and concern for the environment. Although pollution tops their concerns about city life, only 12 of survey respondents dream of living in an eco-city in which there are no more cars.
On the other hand, a desire for peace and quiet and greater solidarity are evident: 39 of them dream of living in a city where they can easily find havens of tranquillity, and for 34 a stronger sense of solidarity between residents would be a priority.
METHODOLOGY USED IN THE SURVEY
The study covered a global sample of 3,642 respondents representative of the population of each of the six cities in terms of their gender, age and geographical location. Interviews took place between August 14 and September 3, 2013. In all, 600 people were polled in Paris and Mumbai, 602 in Chicago, 604 in Rio de Janeiro, 615 in Chongqing and 621 in Algiers.
NOTES TO EDITORS
A world leader in building materials, Lafarge employs 65,000 people in 64 countries, and posted sales of €15.8 billion in 2012. As a top-ranking player in its Cement, Aggregates and Concrete businesses, it contributes to the construction of cities around the world, through its innovative solutions providing them with more housing and making them more compact, more durable, more beautiful, and better connected. With the world's leading building materials research facility, Lafarge places innovation at the heart of its priorities in order to contribute to more sustainable construction and to better serve architectural creativity. Since 2010, the Lafarge Group has been part of the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index, the first global sustainability benchmark in recognition of its sustainable development actions.