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Sense of Belonging and Mental Health in Hamilton, Ontario: An Intra-Urban Analysis


This paper examines geographic variations in sense of community belonging in Hamilton, Ontario. It also identifies the most significant health and social factors associated with belonging in the city. The research employs data from the 2007/08 Canadian Community Health Survey for respondents aged 18 or over living in the Hamilton Census Metropolitan Area. The primary unit of geography is the forward sortation area (FSA), which correspond with the boundaries comprising the first three digits of the postal code. The paper found that, overall, residents of Hamilton enjoy a strong sense of belonging to their community, one of the highest rates in Canada. Consistent with research at the national level, the paper revealed a strong and clear association between lower sense of belonging and lower self-perceived mental health. Age (45–64) and household type (couples with children) were associated with higher sense of belonging. The mapping analysis revealed that sense of belonging was generally strongest among residents of rural Hamilton and became weaker moving towards the city centre, with particularly low levels evident in the Lower City. The presence of lower sense of belonging and lower mental health was clearly visible in three FSAs comprising the central portion of the Lower City.

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Correspondence to Peter Kitchen.

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Kitchen, P., Williams, A. & Chowhan, J. Sense of Belonging and Mental Health in Hamilton, Ontario: An Intra-Urban Analysis. Soc Indic Res 108, 277–297 (2012).

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  • Sense of belonging
  • Mental health
  • Intra-urban variations
  • Public policy