People in small towns or rural areas are eight times happier than city dwellers, study reveals

City dwellers might have the best opportunities compared to those who live in small towns or rural areas, but a study has revealed that people in the countryside are eight times happier than their city counterparts.

(Pixabay/Joe Breuer)Residents in small towns have more sense of community than those living in a populous city.

Canadian researchers from the McGill University and the Vancouver School of Economics looked into the happiness index of 400,000 respondents in over 1,215 communities from a data taken by the Canadian Community Health Survey and the General Social Survey. They published their findings in a working paper for the National Bureau of Economics Research.

The researchers asked the respondents to rank aspects of their lives from one to 10 based on a series of questions. Most respondents gave an average ranking from 7.04 to 8.94, while a few respondents gave rankings below five.

Experts, however, noticed a particular trend. They underscored that while those who live and thrive in the city have an advantage over small-town residents in terms of education and better jobs, it's people in rural areas who are at least eight times happier and satisfied with their lives.

The least happy Canadian communities apparently come from the most populated and progressive urban areas like Toronto, Hamilton and Kitchener.

Experts attributed this to the fact that small-town residents have a stronger sense of community, identity and belonging despite their small population. It might also be because most city dwellers are originally from other parts of the country but have moved to the urban areas because of the opportunities.

"[The city] is a heterogeneous population, it's not a homogeneous population," therapist Lesli Musicar told reporters. "It's not like in a small town where there is a lot more commonality," Musicar added.

Musicar pointed out that people in the city are also generally less trusting compared to people in small-town neighborhoods. She suggested that one way to change this trend is for city residents to become more involved in the issues around them. This way, they become more familiar with one another and break down their prejudices.