Residents of Vancouver and Toronto report being less satisfied with their lives than people in other Canadian metropolitan areas, according to a new study published by Statistics Canada.
Researchers asked the residents of various census metropolitan areas to rank their overall life satisfaction on a scale of 0 to 10, where 0 was “very dissatisfied” and 10 was “very satisfied.”
In Vancouver, the average score was 7.808, followed closely by Toronto at 7.818. People living in Canada’s most-satisfied metropolitan area, Saguenay, gave an average score of 8.245 out of 10.
The differences are larger when you look at the percentage of people who rate their life satisfaction as a 9 or 10 out of 10. In Sudbury, 44.9 per cent of residents ranked their overall life satisfaction that high. In Vancouver, it was only 33.6 per cent.
When it comes to people who were comparatively unsatisfied with their lives – giving themselves a score of only 6 or less, there are again significant differences between cities.
17.1 per cent of people in Windsor, Toronto and Abbotsford-Mission ranked their life satisfaction at a 6 or less. Only 8.6 per cent of people in Saguenay gave themselves such a low score.
To figure out what accounts for the differences, researchers tested various hypotheses. They found that people who are married or are in good health tend to rank their life satisfaction much higher than others. Unemployed people are more likely to have low satisfaction, and richer people higher satisfaction.
However, the report states, these personal factors don’t seem to account entirely for the variation across metropolitan areas. The researchers note that smaller communities with a population of less than 250,000 tend to report higher average life satisfaction.
Also, when sorted by city size, metropolitan areas in Quebec tend to be at the top of the list: Montrealers are the most satisfied among individuals in Canada’s big cities and most likely to report life satisfaction of 8 or higher, Sherbrooke and Quebec are at the top of the mid-size communities, and Saguenay and Trois-Rivières at the top of the smaller metropolitan areas, according to the study.
Although the Statistics Canada researchers don’t definitively say why this is, they point to other research that suggests levels of trust and social connections in local communities have an effect on people’s life satisfaction, as does income relative to one’s neighbours and economic inequality.