Does living in small communities make people happier?

New study suggests life satisfaction is higher in smaller communities.

A new study from Statistics Canada that investigated life satisfaction levels in metropolitan areas across the country suggests that life satisfaction is higher in smaller communities.

According to the study, most of the census metropolitan areas at the top of the rankings have populations under 250,000. The average life satisfaction in the country is greater in Saguenay, Que., Trois-Rivières, Que., and St. John’s, N.L.; and lower in bigger centres such as Toronto and Vancouver.

The report also suggests that life satisfaction is slightly higher among women than men, and slightly lower among immigrants than persons born in Canada. Life satisfaction is also lower among individuals in their forties and early fifties than among those in younger and older age groups.

Married individuals reported higher levels of life satisfaction than those who are divorced or separated, widowed or never married. Individuals rating their health as “excellent” have life satisfaction scores a full point higher than those rating their health as “good,” and almost three points higher than those rating their health as “poor.” Life satisfaction is also slightly higher among respondents who identified themselves as Aboriginals.

When considering the percentage of individuals who rated their life satisfaction as “nine” or “10” out of 10, Sudbury leads the way with 44.9 per cent, and Vancouver comes at the bottom with 33.6 per cent.

A similar range is evident across the 58 economic regions considered. At the high end, average life satisfaction is about 8.3 to 8.4 out of 10 in several economic regions in Newfoundland and Labrador and Quebec. Average life satisfaction ranges from about 7.8 to 8.0 in the British Columbia economic regions of Northeast, Cariboo, North Coast and Nechako; the Alberta economic region of Red Deer; the Saskatchewan economic regions of Prince Albert and Northern; the Manitoba economic region of North; and the Nova Scotia economic region of Annapolis Valley.

The research is based on a pooled sample of almost 340,000 survey respondents aged 15 or older who reside in one of the 10 provinces. Data for this study was taken from 2009 to 2013.