The Arts and Individual Well-Being in Canada

Connections between Cultural Activities and Health, Volunteering, Satisfaction with Life, and Other Social Indicators in 2010

Author: 

Based on Statistics Canada’s General Social Survey of 2010, an in-depth telephone survey of about 7,500 Canadians 15 years of age or older, this report examines the connections between cultural activities and eight social indicators. A key finding of the report is that participants in 18 cultural activities have significantly better results than non-participants for 101 out of 144 cross-tabulations with social indicators. Cultural participants have significantly worse results for only 10 of the cross-tabulations.

Detailed results for six arts and culture activities are highlighted in the report:

  • Art gallery attendance has a statistically significant connection with six of the eight social indicators.
  • Theatre attendance has a statistically significant connection with seven indicators.
  • Classical music attendance has a statistically significant connection with six indicators.
  • Pop music attendance has a statistically significant connection with seven indicators.
  • Cultural festival attendance has a statistically significant connection with five indicators.
  • Book reading has a statistically significant connection with five indicators.

The report also summarizes the results of statistical models of the connection between these six cultural activities and three indicators of individual well-being: self-reported health, volunteering, and self-reported satisfaction with life. These models examine whether “participation in these arts and culture activities has an association with social indicators above and beyond demographic information”. The key findings of the models follow:

  • Art gallery visits are associated with better health and higher volunteer rates.
  • Theatre attendance is associated with better health, volunteering, and strong satisfaction with life.
  • Classical music attendance is associated with higher volunteer rates and strong satisfaction with life.
  • Pop music attendance is associated with better health, volunteering, and strong satisfaction with life.
  • Attendance at cultural festivals is associated with better health, volunteering, and strong satisfaction with life.
  • Reading books is associated with better health, volunteering, and strong satisfaction with life.

Based on this evidence, the report concludes that “many arts goers have better health, higher volunteer rates, and stronger satisfaction with life”.

The report cautions that the statistical models do not contain all variables with a potential impact on the three indicators of well-being. Some questions, “such as the influence of smoking or alcohol consumption on health, were not available in the General Social Survey”.

Summary: 

Based on Statistics Canada’s General Social Survey of 2010, an in-depth telephone survey of about 7,500 Canadians 15 years of age or older, this report examines the connections between cultural activities and eight social indicators. A key finding of the report is that participants in 18 cultural activities have significantly better results than non-participants for 101 out of 144 cross-tabulations with social indicators. Cultural participants have significantly worse results for only 10 of the cross-tabulations.