NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
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How Happy are Your Neighbours? Variation in Life Satisfaction among 1200 Canadian Neighbourhoods and Communities

John F. Helliwell, Hugh Shiplett, Christopher P. Barrington-Leigh

NBER Working Paper No. 24592
Issued in May 2018
NBER Program(s):Labor Studies, Public Economics

This paper presents a new public-use dataset for community-level life satisfaction in Canada, based on more than 400,000 observations from the Canadian Community Health Surveys and the General Social Surveys. The country is divided into 1215 similarly sampled geographic regions, using natural, built, and administrative boundaries. A cross-validation exercise suggests that our choice of minimum sampling thresholds approximately maximizes the predictive power of our estimates. Our procedure reveals robust differences in life satisfaction between and across urban and rural communities. We then match the life satisfaction data with a range of key census variables to explore ways in which lives differ in the most and least happy communities. The data presented here are useful on their own to study community-level variation, and can also be used to provide contextual variables for multi-level modelling with individual life satisfaction data set in a community context.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w24592

 
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