Today's discussion:

How happy are you? Canadian satisfaction is deteriorating fast—particularly among youth

The decline in Canada’s overall happiness score appears to be age-driven. Canadian youth now rank much more poorly in their life evaluations than older Canadians. This stands in contrast with the global norm where the young tend to be as happy or even happier than older respondents. 

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Peter Morgan

At 68, I’m economically secure, have a house and am close to family. In all of this, I’m happy. But as a Canadian, I’m not happy at all. The main cause of my disaffection is the capture of our governments and institutions by woke ideology. The Trudeau Gov’t, which at first I enthusiastically welcomed, has done its best to undermine the idea of a Canadian character, of a Canadian state, and replaced this with a focus on various identities that have no common bond. The Hub is not immune. Last Fall, in a survey of subscribers, I was asked to identify my “gender identity”, to align myself with a concept that would have us believe that men can literally become women, and vv, just by saying so. It’s this kind of delusional thought that underlies much of what Canada has become in official pronouncements, in its communication with citizens. Five years ago, as a life-long centre-left thinker, I couldn’t have imagined in my wildest dreams voting for someone like Danielle Smith or Pierre Poilievre, but now they seem like our only chance to regain some of what it used to mean to be Canadian. I hope, vainly, it would seem, for a politician on the left to show some spine.

15th April 2024 at 7:41 am
A. Chezzi

Looking at the chart recording which countries have the happiest people, it is interesting to see that countries which put the welfare of people before profit are among the highest rating populations in the world. Happiness is more than a fat pay check. A society in which the social needs of its people are put first will be a healthier, happier society. When health care, all forms of it, education, housing, a guaranteed income, pensions, are among the top priorities of a government, people prosper. None of the above are the concern of a Poilievre government. It will be all about the private sector and how it can turn a profit in these crucial areas.

15th April 2024 at 9:31 am
Alice

We moved from an acreage near Calgary to a small town last year, and my happiness improved immensely. I live with far less stuff, and have a much better social life. I see people daily and interact with them. I know the people behind the counters in the stores, I have neighbors to talk to. I got involved and engaged. I have never been big on the social media, but it does seem to me that the more time you spend on the phone, and less time actually interacting with people face to face, the more removed you get from society. You see groups of people, not talking to each other, but all on their phones. To me, that correlates with millenials being less happy as they do spend more time on their phones.

15th April 2024 at 8:45 am
Tom Steadman

We’re octogenarians…and fortunate folks. We saved enough to maintain a “good” independent lifestyle until now. Our plans for a move to a “care home” are in significant jeopardy due to the decline in the spending value of our savings.

We must take a life-style reduction to afford care.

15th April 2024 at 10:51 am
Kim Morton

Happiness, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. It is difficult for a young person that doesn’t have a high paying government job to be happy to see half their pay go to taxes, while the cost of living and raises for elected officials is out of control. Likewise for a retiree, who has witnessed the cost of almost everything double in the last three years, while pensions, have gone up a few pennies and are forced to go back to work to make ends meet.

15th April 2024 at 10:14 am
Valerie

I feel like more established people can easily miss how much more it now takes to buy choice about your life that was once taken relatively for granted. (Not necessarily easy, but possible to make work.) Plenty of young people doing fine financially on paper wouldn’t be if they moved, took a new job, had a child or even got a pet, and more importantly often can’t foreseeably make up the difference by cutting back elsewhere. The things that are cheaper than they were decades ago (cue complaints about netflix and smartphones) are not good substitutes for the things that have gotten more expensive.

Feeling stuck is a huge detractor from happiness, and I think made worse when (at least to the degree the biggest problem is housing) it has come as a result of policy choices that favour older people rather than bad luck. And, the current situation has come on the tails of pandemic restrictions that (mostly justifiably) deprived everyone of a lot of choice, but in ways that arguably cost young people more and inarguably benefited them less.

15th April 2024 at 5:13 pm
Gord Edwards

This is an interesting perspective, but it is worth remembering the economics isn’t everything. If it was one would expect the graph in Fig 3 to look a bit different. During the Great Recession you can see a significant dip in the over 60s (which makes sense as they saw their savings devalued). But the other groups are overall trending up.

I’d suggest looking at the work of Jon Haidt in the After Babel Substack (https://www.afterbabel.com/) on the youth mental health crisis which he (and other researchers) trace to 2012 and the smart phone/social media combination. While his focus of study is on youth the impacts are not limited to one demographic.

15th April 2024 at 4:24 pm