People who live in rural areas are happier than city dwellers, new research has found.
The study surveyed 400,000 people across Canada using a widely-recognized happiness scale.
Cities have higher salaries, higher education levels and lower unemployment rates.
However, that meant nothing in terms of joy: people who lived in the countryside were, on average, eight times happier than people in urban areas, the study found.
The researchers said the findings lay bare the undeniable importance of strong communities over social isolation.
Cities have higher salaries and education and lower unemployment rates but their inhabitants are far less joyful than people in less populated areas
‘Life is significantly less happy in urban areas,’ the study’s authors concluded.
To assess happiness, researchers at McGill University in Montreal and the Vancouver School of Economics asked people how satisfied they were with their lives on a scale of one to 10.
They then broke this down into various questions that contributed to the same point.
In general, most landed between 7.04 and 8.94; just five percent fell below a rating of five out of 10.
Given the small average range, the study authors said, even one fraction difference was statistically significant.
They found that people in cities were 800 percent less happy than those in small towns or rural areas.
The reasons for this, the authors said, are many, but is mainly driven by the lack of a strong community base.
Scores of studies have shown, city-dwellers tend not to have as much regular contact with family or friends.
And, as a study found this week, social isolation can literally change the brain, flooding the brain with a chemical that fuels fear and aggression.
City-dwellers also tend to spend more of their income – at least 30 percent – on their housing, which is a stressor.
One Toronto therapist, who spoke with Canada’s Global News, also said people in urban areas tend to feel less safe, even subconsciously.
‘There isn’t the same feeling of safety,’ Lesli Musicar said.
‘People are generally less trusting.
‘There’s a heterogeneous population, it’s not a homogeneous population, it’s not like in a small town where there is a lot more commonality.’