Suburban cities are suffering from aging and abandoned houses along with the out migration of particularly young people. Suburban cities, considered as bed towns, have infrastructure including roads and housing complexes from the times of the major development of residential housing. Such infrastructure is capable of receiving potential migrant population from over-populated areas. In order for both current and future residents to maintain a comfortable living in suburban communities, the study looks at the subjective happiness of residents as a factor determining intent to settle. A social survey was conducted to 700 households in Hinosato District located in Fukuoka Prefecture, Japan, and collected over 500 responses with the response rate of 72 %. The survey structure is composed of the lifestyle of residents, surrounding environment, occupation, and other factors that supposedly affect intent to settle.
The survey revealed the highest correlation between intent to settle and the subjective happiness among others using Pearson's correlation coefficient. With that result, the stepwise multiple regression analysis (MRA) was conducted using SPSS. It shows that intent to settle is determined by four factors, namely happiness, natural environment, convenience (living environments) and social capital.
A second MRA is performed to examine what variables influence the four factors. As indicated in Figure 4, the determinants of each factor vary and barely overlapped. Firstly, happiness is determined by health, employment and motivation for public participation. Natural environment, the second determinant of intent to settle, is affected by comfort of living environment, safety / security and cultural environment. Convenience of living environment, the third affecting variable to intent to settle, is determined by employment, welfare services and education / child raising values. Lastly, social capital is affected by practice-based environmental awareness, public participation, satisfaction to work-life-balance, and natural environment. This indicates that happiness is a standalone value to evaluate people's intent to settle on top of the other variables conventionally used to examine intent to settle.
Overall, the previous studies focus on the objective conditions including the convenience of life and the quality of surrounding environments to measure people's intent to settle. However, such an approach is based on that the determinants of intent to settle is not valued by the happiness of residents but by external factors.
The happiness-intent to settle model, suggested by this study, allows a shift from the previous idea of directly linking living environments and intent to settle to the proposed theory that relates people's happiness and intent to settle. Putting a focus on happiness is considered to have a positive effect on the prevention of out-migration.