On average, residents report high satisfaction with neighborhoods, City services.
SOMERVILLE – The results are in, and Somerville residents are, on average, still happy! In fact, according to the City’s most recent Happiness Survey, Somerville residents are happier on average than the happiest country in the world, Switzerland.
City officials released the analysis from the 2015 Happiness Report, a survey that has been distributed to a random sample of Somerville residents every other year since 2011. The self-reported happiness of residents is increasingly considered to be a valued measure of the quality of municipal services and a goal of public policy. The 2015 data suggests that Somerville residents are overall quite happy, and satisfied with City services and policies, with the average response on a scale of 1 to 10 being 7.8, which is an increase from previous years when the averages responses were 7.5 and 7.7.
Overall, when asked to rate a selection of specific City services on a scale of 1 to 5, Somerville residents reported slightly decreased levels of satisfaction with the “cost of housing” (score 2.6) “the overall quality of public schools” (3.3), and “trust in the local police” (3.75), but increased levels of satisfaction with the availability of social community events (4.2). The “availability of information about City services,” which was added to the survey for the first time this year, received a score of 4.2.
“For Somerville, it’s no surprise that a Happiness Index is rapidly becoming a useful tool for measuring progress, both social and economic, for municipalities,” said Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone. “If your residents, businesses, and other stakeholders are not satisfied with city services or the quality of their neighborhoods, the community overall will suffer. It’s important that we understand what affects our residents’ quality of life, and use that data to inform how we manage our services and enact policies. Overall, we are happy to see steadily increasing happiness scores, but we know we have work left to do, and these results will help guide that.”
The survey was conducted in the three most spoken languages in the city (English, Spanish, and Portuguese), using the scientific survey methodology known as random sampling. Surveys were sent to a random sample of 500 residences in Somerville, with a 35 percent response rate.
Analysis of the 2015 data, in conjunction with data from previous surveys, will be used to guide future policymaking in Somerville such as community policing models, affordable housing, support and resources for low-income individuals and families, and investment in parks and open space.