Happiness: Young People Less Happy Than Their Elders?

Researchers who worked on the World Happiness Report have found that young people in the United States, Canada, and some Western European countries have been less happy than their elders in recent years.

This report, published on 20 March, the International Day of Happiness, reviews the perceptions of well-being among populations in 137 countries.

Boomers Happier Than Millennials

For the first time, researchers went beyond the traditional “happiness ranking” by country to survey different generations. And the results can be very different according to age groups.

According to the report, the happiness of 15- to 24-year-olds has declined since 2019 in North America, Western Europe, South Asia, and the Middle East and North Africa.

In Canada, the feeling of happiness among those over 60 ranks the country 8th, while the perception of those under 30 places the country 58th. A similar phenomenon occurs in the United States, where the older generation ranks the country 10th while the younger generation sees it only 62nd.

In Europe, for example, France sees those over 60 rank the country in 25th place, and those under 30 in 48th place.

In these regions, people born before 1965 are on average happier than those born after 1980. Among “Millennials,” the perception of happiness decreases with age, while among “Boomers,” it increases with age.

Norway, Sweden, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, and Spain are countries where the elderly are significantly happier than the young today.

The opposite is true in two southern countries: Portugal and Greece. The same goes for most Eastern European countries, where those under 30 see more happiness in their lives than their parents and grandparents.

In the 20 “least happy” countries, all ages combined, there is little difference in the perception of happiness according to generation.

The Nordics World Champions of Happiness (Especially the Older Ones)

For the seventh consecutive year, Finland remains at the top of the “happiest” countries globally, followed by Denmark, Iceland, and Sweden, all ages combined. “Nordic countries top the list in terms of happiness and equality,” notes the report.

However, it is noted that among these top four, young people feel less happy than their elders, especially in Sweden.

The general “Top 10” includes the Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, and Luxembourg. Other Western European countries rank well, such as Ireland (14th), Germany (16th), Belgium (17th), the United Kingdom (19th), and France (21st).

Israel occupies fifth place and is even in second place in the ranking of happiness perception among young people—the survey was conducted before October 7, 2023. Palestine, whose population was also surveyed between 2020 and 2022, is ranked 99th, and Ukraine, at war since 2022, is 92nd.

Afghanistan remains at the bottom of the list. Along with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Zimbabwe, Sierra Leone, and Lebanon, it is among the five least happy countries in the world.

The World Happiness Report 2024 is prepared by independent researchers and well-being specialists in partnership with the Gallup polling institute, the Oxford Wellbeing Research Centre, and the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN).

The full report in English is available here: worldhappiness.report.

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