Think you’re well connected? You probably are – if you live in the Atlantic provinces. On average, Maritimers know people in a wider range of occupations than other Canadians, says U of T sociology professor Bonnie Erickson. “There has been very little migration into the Atlantic region compared with other parts of Canada, so networks have been able to develop over time.” Persistent economic hardships in the Atlantic provinces and the resulting need to rely on others have also created strong networks, she adds.
As part of the federal “2000 Canadian Election Survey,” Erickson polled 1,537 Canadians in four regions. She asked the individuals if they knew anyone working in each of 15 occupations – from server to lawyer. Those living in the Atlantic region knew, on average, someone in 11 of the 15 job categories. Those polled in other regions were acquainted with someone in only 10 of the categories. The western provinces scored second highest, followed by Ontario and Quebec.
The key to broadening your social network is to get actively involved in voluntary associations, says Erickson. “When you join a voluntary association, you get to meet people who have something in common with you, and you also get to meet people who aren’t exactly like you.”