Are apartment residents more lonely and less trusting? @VancouverFdn study says yes.

by Charles Montgomery on

As the Vancouver Foundation starts to dig deeper into its Connections and Engagement survey results, it is finding plenty to worry about in our increasingly dense, hybrid city.

The latest statistical dispatch has this disquieting salvo for Vancouverism:

People living in high rise towers were about half as likely to say they had done a favour for a neighbour as were people living in detached homes.

They were much less likely to know their neighbour’s names. They were much less likely to trust their neighbours.They were less likely to believe that their neighbours would return a lost wallet or purse. They felt alone more often. They had difficulty making friends.

Considering that social trust and relationships are the most powerful ingredient of human well-being, this is, at least on the surface, a condemnation of the residential tower as a veritable loneliness machine.

But we should not jump to conclusions just yet. UBC Economist John Helliwell reminded me a couple of years ago that these correlations might be less causal than, say, residential tenure. IE: people tend to be more trusting and connected if they have lived somewhere for a long time. Could the low trust scores for high rise dwellers have more to do with the fact that they are more transient? Perhaps further Vancouver Foundation analysis will tell…