New research shows the COVID-19 pandemic has depressed the life satisfaction of Canadians to one of the lowest points in nearly two decades.
Drawing on data from 2018 and June 2020, the study titled Life Satisfaction in Canada Before and During the COVID-19 Pandemic, found that the average life satisfaction of Canadians was 6.71 (on a scale of 10) in June 2020, a drop of 1.38 points (17 per cent) compared to 2018.
“This was the lowest level of life satisfaction observed in Canada over the 2003-to-2020 period for which comparable data are available,” reads an accompanying analysis from Statistics Canada. “Across the response scale, the share of Canadians rating their life satisfaction as 8 or above declined from 72 per cent to 40 per cent, while the share rating their life satisfaction as 6 or below increased from 12 per cent to 40 per cent.”
The study found that life satisfaction has declined more among younger Canadians as the share of youth aged 15 to 29 rating their life satisfaction as 8 or above declined from 72 per cent in 2018 to 26 per cent in June 2020. This drop of 46 per cent was far larger than the 30 per cent observed among individuals aged 30 to 59 and the 27 per cent decline observed among individuals aged 60 and older.
Data from 2018 shows only a small differences in average life satisfaction between immigrants and individuals born in Canada. “But by June 2020, life satisfaction had declined far more among immigrants, and in fact average life satisfaction was lower among immigrants from Asia, at 6.18, and immigrants from the United States, Europe and Australia, at 6.40, than among the Canadian-born, at 6.81,” it reads.
Employment status, but also social factors have played a role in this disconnect, as immigrants were more likely than the Canadian-born population to report fear of becoming the target of unwanted or intimidating behaviours during the pandemic, because people (falsely) judge them as putting others’ health at risk.
More than four out of 10 immigrants from Asia expressed this fear, compared to 17 per cent of people born in Canada.
Across all individuals, life satisfaction was almost 0.8 points lower among individuals who expressed such fears than those who did not.
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