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Which Canadians are most likely to feel the February blues?

Calgary’s state of sadness map

Matthew Bambach/The Globe and Mail

It's cold, the nights are long and the holidays a distant memory.

February can be grim.

So who is most likely to feel the February blues?

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Those who spend too much, drink too much and feel they should better manage their time, according to new research from Environics Analytics.

Emily Anderson, an Environics senior analyst, used two types of data to assess various groups for their propensity to feel the blues. One set measured financial stress through debt-to-income ratios. The other looked at answers to survey questions such as whether someone feels they drink too much, should eat better or have too much stress in their life.

Surprisingly the two sets of data pointed to the same segments of society, Ms. Anderson said.

"Those folks that are spending too much on their credit-card bills are also the ones most likely to feel guilty about their alcohol indulgence and not as likely as others to feel they can stick to the commitments they make," Ms. Anderson says.

Environics, through their Prizm analysis tool, assigns names and characteristics to each Canadian neighbourhood based on everything from spending habits to age, ethnicity, education levels and the attitudes of its population. There are more than 65 of these clusters, as they're called, and each neighbourhood is assigned one as its aggregate identity. The four clusters most closely associated with the blues, Ms. Anderson found, were younger, less wealthy, had higher levels of immigration and more people at a time of transition in their lives. The neighbourhoods associated with the highest levels of contentedness were wealthier and more stable, with higher rates of home ownership.

Interestingly, two of the four clusters on the well-adjusted side are francophone Quebec groupings. They're home to a mostly working-class, suburban, family-oriented population whose hobbies tend to include snowmobiling and camping, according to the cluster data.

In B.C.'s Lower Mainland, it's North Vancouver, West Vancouver and the city's west side around Dunbar Street that show high levels of "positive perkiness." In Toronto the central core of Rosedale and Forest Hill are among the "best-adjusted" areas, while in Montreal and Calgary it's the stable, satisfied suburbs that are best insulated against the blahs.

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How accurately do these findings predict happiness or unhappiness? It's hard to say, Ms. Anderson admits.

"We haven't gone and knocked on all these doors and asked them how they're feeling," she said.

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About the Author
Demographics Reporter

Joe Friesen writes about immigration, population, culture and politics. He was previously the Globe's Prairie bureau chief. More

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