Key to hap­pi­ness is in ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties: study

Re­searchers find strik­ing as­so­ci­a­tion be­tween pop­u­la­tion den­sity and hap­pi­ness

StarMetro Calgary - - CANADA -

Heaven is wide open spa­ces — at least, it is for most peo­ple, ac­cord­ing to a mas­sive new data set of hap­pi­ness in Canada.

A team of hap­pi­ness re­searchers at the Van­cou­ver School of Eco­nom­ics and McGill Univer­sity recently pub­lished a work­ing paper on the ge­og­ra­phy of well-be­ing in Canada. They com­piled 400,000 re­sponses to a pair of na­tional Cana­dian sur­veys, al­low­ing them to parse out dis­tinc­tions in well-be­ing at the level of more than 1,200 com­mu­ni­ties rep­re­sent­ing the coun­try’s en­tire ge­og­ra­phy.

They were able to cross-ref­er­ence the well-be­ing re­sponses with other sur­vey data, as well as fig­ures from the Cana­dian cen­sus, to see what sorts of char­ac­ter­is­tics were as­so­ci­ated with hap­pi­ness at the com­mu­nity level.

Their chief find­ing is a strik­ing as­so­ci­a­tion be­tween pop­u­la­tion den­sity and hap­pi­ness. When the re­searchers ranked all 1,215 com­mu­ni­ties by av­er­age hap­pi­ness, they found that av­er­age pop­u­la­tion den­sity in the 20 per cent most-mis­er­able com­mu­ni­ties was more than eight times greater than in the hap­pi­est 20 per cent of com­mu­ni­ties.

“Life is sig­nif­i­cantly less happy in ur­ban ar­eas,” the paper con­cluded. So what makes the hap­pi­est com­mu­ni­ties dif­fer­ent from all the rest? De­tails at thes­tar.com

RENE JOHN­STON/TORONTO STAR

A large crowd of com­muters jam the path from the rail decks at Union Sta­tion dur­ing morn­ing rush hour in Toronto. A team of hap­pi­ness re­searchers found a strik­ing as­so­ci­a­tion be­tween pop­u­la­tion den­sity and hap­pi­ness.

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