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October 20, 2021

Canadians' sense of well-being? Depends on who you ask

A couple of week ago, we talked about the Misery Index, a measure of how Americans feel about their bleak economic prospects.

Now, however, Canadians have their own index and it's much broader than the U.S. version -- but not really any less gloomy.

The measure is based on 64 indicators from eight separate areas: living standards, community vitality, democratic engagement, education, healthy populations, environment, time use, leisure and culture.

Overall, the index suggests the quality of life in Canada has actually decreased since 1994, the starting point for the new measure which is based out of the University of Waterloo.

Of course, the index's breadth means it actually lags a bit and really doesn't capture the full impact of the 2008 recession and the subsequent uneven recovery.

Echoing today's Occupy Wall Street protesters, the report also suggests the top 20 per cent of Canadians enjoyed rising incomes and wealth during the boom years, leaving the bottom 20 per cent even further behind.

Part of the reason is that housing prices have increased so much, beyond what rising incomes can cover.

On the plus side though, crime rates are dropping, high-school graduation rates are increasing and life expectancy is climbing.

While the protest movement's end game may be unclear, that sense of disparity does reinforce the group's key point: economic growth doesn't necessarily translate into a corresponding improvement in overall quality of life.

When you look at the numbers, do they reflect your reality? Have you seen your quality of life slide over the past several years? Or are you one of the lucky/hardworking ones?

By Gordon Powers, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...