Life satisfaction for the Canadian population as a whole has dropped to its lowest level during COVID-19, when observed over a period of time from 2003 to 2020 during which comparable data is available, according to a new study from Statistics Canada.
The study, “Life Satisfaction in Canada Before and During the COVID-19 Pandemic,” documents change in life satisfaction across different demographic groups. The scale runs from 0 for “very dissatisfied” to 10 for “very satisfied”.
In 2018, the average life satisfaction of Canadians was 8.09; by June 2020 average life satisfaction was 1.38 points lower, at 6.71. This was the lowest level of life satisfaction observed in Canada over the 2003-to-2020 period for which comparable data are available. Across the response scale, the share of Canadians rating their life satisfaction as 8 or above declined from 72% to 40%, while the share rating their life satisfaction as 6 or below increased from 12% to 40%.
Life Satisfaction Declines Among Immigrants From Asia
While Canadian-born respondents said that their life satisfaction in June 2020 was 6.81, immigrants from Asia gave a rating of 6.18.
Immigrants from the United States, Europe and Australia split the difference and gave a rating of 6.40:
...immigrants were more likely than the Canadian-born population to report fear of being the target of unwanted or intimidating behaviours during the pandemic, because people judge them as putting others' health at risk.
“Unexpected”: Women And Men Report Similar Life Satisfaction
While Statistics Canada cites a Pew Research poll showing that "their lives have changed because of COVID-19," and they state women "rated their mental health slightly less positively", women and men gave a respective overall rating of 8.09 and 8.10:
There was little difference in life satisfaction between women and men either prior to or during the COVID-19 pandemic. This was unexpected, given male-female differences in employment, mental health and work-family balance during the pandemic documented in other studies.
Lower Satisfaction For Younger People
Life satisfaction dropped the most for people under the age of 30, and participants 60 or older dropped the least:
...average life satisfaction changed far more across age groups, declining by 1.76 points among Canadians aged 15 to 29, by 1.32 points among those aged 30 to 59, and by 1.21 points among those aged 60 or older.
This lower age cohort includes the youngest subset of Millennials (age 24-25 and over) and Generation Z.
Lower Employment Leads To Lower Satisfaction
Respondents’ own employment circumstances were correlated with life satisfaction to about the same degree in 2018 and 2020; however, the incidence of employment was about 7 percentage points lower in June 2020 than in 2018. Not being employed lowered life satisfaction by 0.342 points, so shifting 7% of respondents out of employment lowered average national life satisfaction by an estimated 0.023 points...
Each 1% increase in the regional unemployment rate is estimated to yield a decline in life satisfaction of 0.059 points.