Europe may look like it’s in a permanent condition of upheaval these days, with protests and protest parties dominating much of the headlines. But in fact, when asked the simple question, “Overall, how satisfied are you with your life these days?,” nearly three-quarters say they’re content. In fact, compared to five years ago, in 2018 most Europeans across the continent said they are happier. The release of a Eurostat poll, relying on research from 2018 across 27 countries, even showed an uptick in well-being from a score of 7.0 in 2013 to 7.3 in 2018. (In the poll, respondents were asked to respond on a scale from 0, which was not at all satisfied, to 10, which designated being completely satisfied.)
According to the poll, the happiest Europeans are those living in Austria, Finland, Norway and Switzerland. The unhappiest are those in Bulgaria and Croatia. On the heels of the unhappier Europeans were Greece, Lithuania, Hungary, Latvia and Portugal – all with ratings below the EU-28 average. Happiness fell the most in Bulgaria, Portugal and Estonia. It increased the most in Cyprus. (Although Eurostat provides excellent graphics for the poll, it is somewhat confusing that it, in official EU-style, designates Croatia as “HR” and Greece as “EL”.)
The three factors most critical for well-being appear to be health, wealth and age. The youngest age group polled – 16 to 24 – was the happiest while life satisfaction decreased as the respondent categories became older. Only 11 % of the youngest group expressed a low level of happiness.
Moreover, in the EU states, the happier were those with high levels of education – the least happy those with less. Likewise there was a very direct correlation between wealth and happiness, as well as satisfaction with one’s country’s financial condition. This is illustrated in the much higher rates of well-being in the Nordic countries and lower rates in the south.
Also, people with children said they were happier than those without kids and one’s personal relations also affect happiness. “Personal relationships also play a significant part in life satisfaction,” concluded the pollsters. “A well-functioning social environment offers an important balance between work and personal life and allows individuals to feel as part of a society. Good personal relationships also help to protect people from loneliness and promote their overall well-being.”
The Maltese, Austrians and Slovenians expressed the highest degree of satisfaction with their personal relationships.