Urban Fold

Vancouver May Be Livable, But It's Not Happy

This article from Vancouver Magazine looks at a recent study naming the livable and oft-envied city home to some of the least happy Canadians and asks why a great city has unhappy people.

"A groundbreaking study found that, despite our glorious mountains and ocean, our mild weather, our good health, our Olympic future, and all the livability accolades, Vancouverites are just not as happy as people in St. John, or St. John's, or Winnipeg. The news was enough to wipe the smug grin from any world-class mug."

"So what does it take to make a city happy? Why aren't mountain views and a strong economy enough? In a town that looks to real-estate schemes for fulfillment, is it possible to build our way to happiness? To answer these questions, I hooked up with the Subjective Well-being Club, a collective of happiness-obsessed economists, psychologists, and educators at the University of British Columbia. Helliwell is the club's éminence grise."

"Self-reported happiness reflects all the varied ingredients of a good life. That's why the study on Canadian cities was so annoying. None of Canada's biggest, richest cities were among the happiest. Toronto and Edmonton were near the back of the pack. Vancouver trailed behind them. And for all its boom and bluster, Calgary brought up the rear. The happy charts were topped by Canada's small Nowheresville cities: St. John, New Brunswick, whooped us all. How is it that the places that attract us, the cities that cost us so much to call home, are emotional tar pits?"

Thanks to Brent Toderian

Full Story: Sad City



Interesting article on happiness

Vancouver, like many large West coast cities, - Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle- is a beautiful, prosperous city filled with smart, ambitous people.

Many Vancouverites are in-migrants that have moved away from their families and hometowns to make it out west. In general, these people have to be driven to be succesful in a place like Vancouver, and therefore they must have high expectations for themselves and their communities. The high expectations might test poorly in self-reported happiness surveys, but doesn't mean they are generally unhappy.

This difference in expectation might be more pronounced when compared to other more 'normal' places, like Winnipeg or St. John. (BTW, they are lovely places, but have less robust economies, and worse weather than Vancouver.)

I'd rather see comparisons of happiness between Vancouver and the other West coast cities I mentioned. I bet you'd see different results.

I'd also like to see if there are correlations to the following: overall income levels, consumer levels and income disparity. Which Vancouverites are happiest the very poor or the very wealthy cohorts?

Last winter, I saw a similar report in world-wide surveys of hapiness, the Danes reported greatest happiness than the rest of the world. Is this a result of their more equitable society? Or is it because they bicycle more? ;)


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