International Ranking 
Canada benchmarked against 15 countries

Social Network Support

Key Messages

  • Canada scores a “B” and ranks 5th out of 17 peer countries.
  • Ninety-four per cent of Canadian survey respondents said they have relatives or friends they can count on for help in times of need.
  • Good social network support has positive spillover effects for both individual and societal well-being.

Social Network Support, 2012 or Most Recent Year (chart)

Putting social network support in context

People with good social network support live longer, have better general health outcomes, and are more likely to be employed, to have better mental health, and to be less affected by stress, according to the OCED. Social connections also have positive effects on social cohesion, which can boost economic growth and lower crime.1

How is social network support measured?

Social network support is measured for this report card as the proportion of respondents in each country who answered “yes” to the following question: “If you were in trouble, do you have relatives or friends you can count on to help you whenever you need them?”

In previous How Canada Performs report cards, the Conference Board used the World Values Survey data on social isolation. Unfortunately, the most recent data for Canada from the survey is from 2006. Consequently, we decided to use more recent data on social network support from the Gallup World Poll of 2010. The Gallup World Poll uses the same methodology and questionnaire in all countries. The OECD also used this data source for its report How’s Life? Measuring Well-Being.

The World Values Survey is currently carrying out a new wave of surveys, the results of which will be used in future How Canada Performs report cards.

Do Canadians have better social network support than citizens of other peer countries?

Ninety-four per cent of Canadians polled said they had relatives or friends they could count on in times of need. This was 3 percentage points below that of the top-performing countries—Ireland and Australia—but 6 percentage points above that of the worst-performing country, Italy. Canada ranked 5th (tying with three other countries) among the 17 peer countries.


1 OECD, How’s Life? Measuring Well-Being, 2011, 169–171 (accessed October 30, 2012).