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Happiness Shift: Why Young People Are Less Happy Than Ever

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A recent global research study has uncovered a concerning trend: young people worldwide are experiencing a decline in happiness, resembling what experts term “the equivalent of a midlife crisis.” This revelation, documented in the 2024 World Happiness Report, sheds light on the shifting landscape of wellbeing, particularly among the youth population.

The Study:

Conducted annually, the World Happiness Report assesses the wellbeing of 140 nations, coordinated by leading institutions such as Oxford University’s Wellbeing Research Centre, Gallup, and the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network. Researchers asked participants to rate their life satisfaction on a scale of zero to ten, with ten representing the best possible life. Results from the past three years were averaged to derive insights.

 

Findings:

 

Youth Happiness Decline: The report highlights a significant decline in happiness among young people, particularly in North America and Western Europe. This trend is alarming, suggesting that youth are experiencing challenges akin to a midlife crisis much earlier than anticipated.

Policy Implications: Professor Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, director of the Wellbeing Research Centre, emphasizes the urgent need for policy action to address this decline in youth happiness. Factors such as increased polarization, negative impacts of social media, and economic inequality contribute to this phenomenon and warrant immediate attention.

Contradictory Trajectory: The findings challenge conventional wisdom that happiness follows a U-shaped trajectory, with a dip in midlife followed by a rebound. Instead, the study suggests that young people are grappling with happiness issues that transcend age demographics.

Global Rankings: The report reveals that the United States, once a top contender in happiness rankings, has been excluded from the list of the top 20 happiest nations. Similarly, young people in the UK report lower happiness levels compared to their peers in other countries, while older generations fare better in international happiness rankings.

Top Performing Nations: Finland, Denmark, and Iceland emerge as the top three happiest countries, showcasing successful models of wellbeing that other nations can learn from.

Conclusion:

The 2024 World Happiness Report serves as a wake-up call, signaling the need for concerted efforts to address the declining happiness levels among young people globally. By understanding the underlying factors contributing to this trend and implementing targeted policy interventions, governments and stakeholders can work towards fostering a happier and more resilient youth population for the future.

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