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Survey says: Happiness grows in Somerville

According to a city survey, Somerville residents are a happy set. Gretchen Ertl for the Boston Globe/file 2015

Somerville residents remain a happy lot, even more so than two years ago.

The city has released the results of a resident survey that showed — on a scale of 1 to 10 — respondents on average rated their happiness levels at 7.8, or slightly above the average levels of 7.5 to 7.7 in two previous surveys.

Officials noted that the 7.8 recorded in the city’s survey exceeded even that of Switzerland, which at 7.6 was ranked the happiest country in the world in a 2015 survey. The United States came in 15th (7.1).

The uptick in Somerville comes despite a small decrease in satisfaction with some city services.


The city has been conducting its happiness survey every other year since it became the first in the nation to launch it in 2011. Distributed to a random sample of Somerville residents, this year’s survey was mailed to 500 households, with 35 percent responding.

The city uses the results to help in managing services and enacting policies, according to Daniel Hadley, chief of staff to Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone.

“We do use it for gauging residents’ satisfaction and with that we hope to be able to address any issues we see that could be problematic,” Hadley said.

The Somerville report also indicates that residents are largely satisfied with the city as a place to live, with an average score of 8.2 out of 10, up from 7.7 in 2013.

When asked to rate various city services on a scale of 1 to 5, though, respondents reported slightly decreased levels of satisfaction compared with 2013. Housing fell from 2.8 to 2.6, and assessment of the overall quality of public schools slipped from 3.5 to 3.3.

Satisfaction with the availability of social community events, however, climbed from 4 to 4.2. The availability of city services, added to the survey 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,” Curtatone said in a statement.

“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.”

Average responses to three Somerville Happiness surveys, on a scale of 1-10.City of Somerville

John Laidler can be reached at