The happiest countries according to kids

Photo: Shutterstock

Photo: Shutterstock

European children are the most satisfied with their friendships. African kids are the happiest with their school life. South Korean kids think life sucks. Those are a few of the conclusions from a wide-ranging children’s well-being survey.

The study was conducted by Children’s Worlds, an international survey organization, which aims to ask children about their lives in as many countries as possible. Currently the project has not yet gathered any data in India. The survey asked children of 8, 10 and 12 years about various aspects of their lives, including their family and home life, friendships, money and possessions, school life, local area, time use, personal well-being, views on children’s rights, and their overall happiness. Over 50,000 children from 15 countries were surveyed. Such a large sample does make it possible to make generalizations about children’s opinions in each country and differences between countries.

What comes through clearly from the survey is that children live very different lives in different parts of the world. For example, 61% of children in Nepal live in the same house as their grandparents, the highest among the countries, whereas less than 5% in the UK do so, the lowest. Yet Nepalese are the least likely to say that they have a “good time together as a family.” That goes to Norwegians, with Estonians close behind.

Nearly one in 6 children surveyed in Spain was not born in Spain, but nearly everybody in Ethiopia was born there, and only 1 out of a hundred in South Africa, Poland and South Korea were not born in their countries. In Ethiopia 98% of the children surveyed lacked access to computers and the Internet, whereas in Norway 2% or less had no access. Most children in Ethiopia also don’t have access to books, their own room, a family car, mobile phones, music players or a TV.

And yet despite their differences in access to material things, fewer children in Ethiopia said they were dissatisfied with life as a whole, and more said that they were as satisfied as they could be, than children in South Korea. Other countries where very few children expressed dissatisfaction are Romania and Columbia. Romania, Columbia and Turkey also had the highest number of very satisfied kids, so these are the happiest countries among the fifteen, according to kids.

In every country but Israel and Ethiopia, overall satisfaction with life went down from 10-year olds to 12-year olds. The biggest drop was in South Korea, followed by Poland and Turkey.

On the whole, happiness levels did not greatly vary between females and males. There were other gender differences, though. For example, there were significant differences in satisfaction with body, appearance and self-confidence in European countries and South Korea, but not Asian, African and South American countries.

At school, Algerian children are the happiest with their teachers, German children the least happy. German children also like going to school the least. Romanian children are the happiest with what they have learned, Nepalese, Romanians and Norwegians are the happiest with their marks. South Koreans children are the least happy with what they have learned and their marks.

Overall the report provides a fascinating insight into children’s lives for anyone who is interested in children. Participation in the study is dependent on researchers in individual countries. It would be great to see a research team from India join the effort and undertake a study across the country.

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