Does Climate impact Happiness in Canada?

by Louie G

Climate is often thought to have an impact on quality of life, but how is a subject that is up for debate. The objective of this paper is to test the theory that climate can impact happiness within Canada. Until now, this theory has not been tested in a country that ranks high in terms of well-being. This paper uses two different happiness measures, thereby expanding the definition of happiness in order to test the limitations of climate impacting happiness within a country. By comparing various climate variables from 18 cities across Canada with the self reported levels of life satisfaction and well-being measures in those same cities, I am able to determine the correlation between the climate variables, and the two measures of happiness. The results indicate that climate significantly impacts well-being, but has no impact on life satisfaction.

Excerpt

The lack of a strong correlation between life satisfaction and the climate variables would seem to contradict Frijters and Van Praag’s conclusion that well-being, within countries that have substantial climate variations within their borders, is significantly impacted by climate. This does not mean their study was wrong by any means. It should be noted that self reported life satisfaction does not equal self reported levels of well-being. Life satisfaction is not based on objective realities of life, but rather on the emotions of the respondents and how they perceive their life (Sharpe 4). Well-being uses more objective measures in its calculation, such as health and living standards. I included both measurements to illustrate this difference. To simplify, life satisfaction is a more subjective happiness measure, while well-being is a more objective happiness measure. What the lack of a strong correlation to life satisfaction, and a positive correlation to well-being does show, is that their theory has limited applications. While climate may be correlated with objective happiness measures, it seems to have no effect on an individual’s subjective happiness.

Works Cited

Frijters, Paul, and Bernard MS Van Praag. “The Effects of Climate on Welfare and Well-Being in Russia.” Climatic Change. 39.1 (1998): 61-81. Web. 25 June 2014 .

Sharpe, Andrew, and Evan Capeluck. “Canadians Are Happy and Getting Happier: An Overview of Life Satisfaction in Canada, 2003-2011 .” Centre for the Study of Living Standards. (2012): 1-24. Web. 25 June 2014.

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