Sunday, May 26, 2024

World Happiness Report

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According to Shakespeare’s play As You Like It, and as mentioned in the report, man have seven ages, with the later ones being described as extremely gloomy. However, this study on happiness presents a more complex and dynamic reality.

Happiness for all age groups:

Regarding the overall rankings of happiness, the ten happiest countries have stayed mainly the same since before Covid. Denmark is currently extremely close to Finland which is the top country, and all five Nordic nations are also in the top 10. However, the major changes regard Eastern European countries as Czechia, Slovenia and Lithuania which have climbed the chart and are now on the top 25 of the happiest countries. At the same time, the United States and Germany have dropped to 23 and 24 in the rankings, from 15 and 16 last year, respectively.

Taking into consideration the parameter of negative emotions, comparing to the years between 2006 to 2010, those negative feelings are more common at present times, except for East Asia and Europe. Negative feelings were more common in women than men between 2021-2023, and the gender gap widens as people get older. However, the percentage of people who have assisted those in need has increased globally as a result of the COVID crisis, with younger generations showcasing a higher motivation towards helping.

The happiness rankings of nations fluctuate significantly depending on age. In most countries, the younger generations are happier than the old. Since 2006-2010 happiness has increased most in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, by comparable percentages across all age categories, and there was also a significant rise in East Asia, particularly among the elderly.

In Europe, a distinction can be found between Western and Eastern/Central Europe, with the youngest being extremely happy in Eastern/Central Europe, whilst in Western Europe the level of happiness is similar among all age groups. As for the rest of the world, there is a tendency to a decrease in happiness as you get older.

Nonetheless, there are a few countries which contradict that tendency, as South Asia which saw a decline in happiness across all age categories, the same which occurred in the Middle East and North Africa. North America has also faced a massive drop in the level of happiness, which can justify why the younger population is currently unhappier.

Life satisfaction from childhood into adolescence and adulthood:

Life satisfaction declines steadily in most nations from childhood into adulthood. Globally, younger adults (15–24 years old) continue to express more life satisfaction than older persons. Although between 2006-2019, there was an improvement in the level of life satisfaction among young people aged 15 to 24, which has subsequently ended with the pandemic.

However, the situation differes by area with North America, Western Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia seeing a decline in youth wellbeing (15-24), whilst on the other hand, young people in Sub-Saharan Africa report higher levels of life satisfaction.

Age, gender, different world regions and countries, and different levels of economic development all influence life satisfaction levels. By the time they are 12 years old, women begin to report less life satisfaction than men (this data only applies to high-income countries due to lack of data from low-income countries).

The pandemic outbreak has made these disparities worse, which has widened the gap between women and men between the ages of 13 and 15. Plus, in comparison, there were no worldwide gender disparities in middle-to-late adolescent (15-24) data from 2006 to 2013, but starting in 2014, women started to report better life satisfaction than men.

Wellbeing and an aging global population:

The World Health Organisation predicts that the number of adults 65 and older worldwide will double by the year of 2050, which also means that the number of people who may suffer with dementia will reach 139 million by the same year.

Dementia prevention is essential to ensure the wellbeing of an ageing global population since dementia is linked to a decrease in the quality of life and a lower level of good health. It has been demonstrated that activities and environmental modifications that increase competence and autonomy improve wellbeing in people with dementia.

To go against the idea that happiness decreases as you get older, as mentioned by Shakespeare and many others, or the claim that if that is not the case, only high-income countries have a positive correlation between life satisfaction and age. India, the world’s most populous country, relates older age with a better life satisfaction. Plus, in India,people with secondary or higher education and those from higher social groups have a higher levels of life fulfillment.

The World Happiness Report is a partnership of Oxford Wellbeing Research Centre, Gallup, UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, and the WHR’s Editorial Board, and was put together by John F. Helliwell, Richard Layard, Jeffrey D. Sachs, Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, Lara B. Aknin, and Shun Wang.

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