Canadians Score A- on Happiness, New Data Shows
An invitation for stories that add meaningful nuance to research

On average, most individuals in Canada are generally satisfied with their lives as a whole, research released this week reveals. On a scale of zero to 10, the average level of life satisfaction that participants identified was eight or about an A minus.

Even across 33 metropolitan areas and 58 economic regions in the country, that number remains fairly consistent — within 1/10 of a difference.

The findings are based on data from the Canadian Community Health Survey and the General Social Survey.

In the past, Canada has been a frontrunner in collecting survey data on life satisfaction, but that is changing as more countries collect some form of life evaluation.

There’s growing international interest in measuring subjective well-being, as evidenced by the introduction of initiatives such as the Gallup World Poll in 2005, which has enabled the preparation of three World Happiness Reports since 2012.

The 2015 World Happiness Report, published today, April 23, ranks Canada fifth for subjective well-being among 158 countries worldwide — after Switzerland at the top, followed by Iceland, Denmark and Norway. Canada is up one place in the rankings since the last report in 2013.

The trend to tracking happiness across countries is promising in that it introduces an alternative measure to GDP in quantifying a nation’s state of well-being. In fact, it would be interesting to examine the correlation between GDP and the life satisfaction findings.

There’s also the phenomenon of “what gets measured, gets done.” In other words, measuring life satisfaction is likely to generate opportunities for enriching it.

One of those opportunities could be moving the data to stories. The data provides a broad, scientific, easily digestible starting point from which to explore, through story, all of the specific, nuanced elements of what it means and could mean to be “satisfied” with life.

What about you? What’s your life satisfaction story?

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