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World's Happiest Countries During COVID-19 Pandemic

World's Happiest People
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Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, six in ten adults across 27 countries (63%) are happy and the prevalence of happiness at an aggregate level is nearly unchanged from last year.

However, year-over-year, the incidence of happiness shows significant shifts in many countries: it has declined by eight points or more in Peru, Chile, Mexico, India, the United States, Australia, Canada, and Spain, while it has increased by more than eight percentage points in China, Russia, Malaysia, and Argentina.

According to the latest Ipsos survey on global happiness, the happiest countries surveyed, i.e., those where more than three out of four adults report being very or rather happy are China, the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Canada, France, Australia, Great Britain, and Sweden.

Those where fewer than one in two adults say they are happy are Peru, Chile, Spain, Argentina, Hungary, and Mexico.

Among 29 potential sources of happiness measured, people across the world are most likely to derive “the greatest happiness” from:

  • My health/physical well-being (cited by 55%)
  • My relationship with my partner/spouse (49%)
  • My children (49%)
  • Feeling my life has meaning (48%)
  • My living conditions (45%)
  • My personal safety and security (45%)
  • Feeling in control of my life (43%)
  • Having a meaningful job/employment (43%)
  • Satisfaction with the direction their life is going (40%)
  • Having more money (40%)

In comparison to the pre-pandemic survey conducted last year, the sources of happiness that have most gained in importance globally pertain to relationships, health, and safety.

On the other hand, time and money have ceded some ground as drivers of happiness.

Changes in happiness levels

Globally, happiness is as common this year as it was last year, dipping by just one percentage point from 64% to 63%. However, it has increased by five points or more in six countries, namely China, Russia, Malaysia, and Argentina, while it has decreased by five points or more in 12 countries, most of all Peru, Chile, Mexico, and India.

The happiness leader in 2020 is China, where 93% say they are happy (up 11 points from last year and moving from third place), followed by the Netherlands (newly added this year) with 87%, and Saudi Arabia with 80% (up two points).

Canada and Australia, last year’s leaders in happiness, register a notable drop this year: Canada with 78% (down eight points) drops to fourth place in a tie with France (down two points) and Australia with 77% (down nine points) falls to sixth place.

The survey shows declining levels of happiness in Peru (down 26 points from last year to 32%), Chile (down 15 points to 35%), and Mexico (down 13 points to 46%). Happiness is now less common in Peru, Chile, and Spain (38% down eight points) than it is in Argentina (43%, up by nine points), which ranked last in 2019.

In the U.S., 12% report being very happy, 58% rather happy, 25% not very happy, and 6% not happy at all.

happiest countries during covid19

Countries with the highest incidence of adults who consider themselves very happy are Saudi Arabia (30%), India (22%), and the Netherlands (20%).

Those with the highest share of adults saying they are not happy at all are Spain (13%), Chile and Argentina (both 12%), and Hungary (11%).

Over the course of the past decade, the incidence of happiness has decreased sharply. Between 2011 and 2020, the percentage of those saying they are happy has fallen by 14 points globally. It is down by five points or more in 17 out of 23 countries surveyed both years. Mexico, Turkey, South Africa, Argentina, Spain, and India show drops of more than 20 points. The only country showing a significant increase since 2011 is China (+15 points).

ipsos happiness 2020 2019 comparison

Drivers of Happiness by Country

The survey shows that the top sources of happiness tend to be universal. In 14 of the 27 countries surveyed, each one of the top five sources of happiness, i.e., those that people most frequently say gives them the “greatest happiness,” is among the top 10 sources at the global level.

These countries include Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, India, Italy, Mexico, the Netherlands, Peru, Poland, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, and the United States.

However, in each of the other countries, at least one of the top five drivers of happiness is not found in the global top 10. Sources of happiness that are particularly important in just one or a handful of countries are:

  • My personal financial situation (France, Hungary, Russia, South Korea)
  • My friends (Australia, Belgium, Great Britain)
  • My hobbies/interests (Japan)
  • Finding someone to be with (Russia, Germany, Japan)
  • The wellbeing of my country (Argentina)
  • The amount of free time I have (Japan)
  • Being recognized as a successful person (Turkey)
  • The state of the economy (South Korea)
  • My spiritual or religious well-being (Malaysia and Saudi Arabia)

These are the findings of a 27-country Ipsos survey conducted July 24-August 7, 2020 among 19,516 adults aged 18-74 in the United States, Canada, Malaysia, South Africa, and Turkey and 16-74 in 22 other countries, via Ipsos’s Global Advisor online survey platform.

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