The Arts and Individual Well-Being in Canada, the 39th report in the Statistical Insights on the Arts series, examines whether connections exist between Canadians’ cultural activities and their personal well-being.
The data in the report show that there is a strong connection between 18 cultural activities and eight indicators of health and well-being (such as health, mental health, volunteering, feeling stressed, and overall satisfaction with life). Cultural participants have significantly better results than non-participants for 101 out of 144 cross-tabulations (or 70%). Cultural participants have significantly worse results for only 10 of the cross-tabulations (or 7%).
Six cultural activities and three social indicators were selected for detailed statistical modeling. The key findings of the statistical models are that:
- Art gallery visits are associated with better health and higher volunteer rates.
- Theatre attendance is associated with better health, volunteering, and strong satisfaction with life.
- Classical music attendance is associated with higher volunteer rates and strong satisfaction with life.
- Pop music attendance is associated with better health, volunteering, and strong satisfaction with life.
- Attendance at cultural festivals is associated with better health, volunteering, and strong satisfaction with life
- Reading books is associated with better health, volunteering, and strong satisfaction with life.
The statistical models explore whether participation in these arts and culture activities have an association with social indicators above and beyond demographic information. That is, they examine whether cultural participants simply fit the demographic profile of healthy, socially-active citizens, or whether cultural participation might help explain aspects of health and well-being that are beyond demographic analysis.
While the statistical models provide evidence of a connection between cultural activities and well-being, some questions about variables that might have an association with the three indicators of well-being (such as the influence of smoking or alcohol consumption on health) were not available in the General Social Survey. In addition, it is very difficult to provide evidence of a cause and effect relationship between the variables in a statistical model in the absence of an experiment to directly measure the impacts of culture on personal well-being.