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Does Money Matter: Determining the Happiness of Canadians

March 7, 20117 March 2011

Social impacts of the arts

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This report indicates that “Canada has consistently ranked as one of the happiest nations in the world”. Using measurements from a Gallup World Poll, the Happy Planet Index found that only Costa Rica (8.5), Denmark (8.1), Norway (8.1) and Ireland (8.1) had life satisfaction measurements in 2007-2008 that were higher than that of Canadians (8.0).

Using a different measurement (based on nearly 120,000 responses to the Canadian Community Health Survey in 2007 and 2008), the report indicates that, on a scale from one to five, the average self-assessed rating of the happiness of Canadians is 4.26. Within Canada, happiness is highest on Prince Edward Island (4.33) and lowest in Ontario (4.23) and British Columbia (4.24). Among Census Metropolitan Areas, average happiness is highest in Sherbrooke (4.37), Brantford (4.36), and Trois-Rivières (4.35) and lowest in Toronto (4.15) and Vancouver (4.20).

The report notes that “household income is a relatively weak determinant of individual happiness”. The personal attributes with the strongest correlation with happiness are:

  • an individual’s perceived mental health;
  • an individual’s perceived physical health;
  • higher levels of stress (negative impact on happiness); and
  • a strong sense of belonging to the local community.

The report finds that “the most important reason for geographical variation in happiness in Canada is differences in the sense of belonging to local communities, which is generally higher in small CMAs, rural areas, and Atlantic Canada”.

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