IS EUROPE HAPPY? AN INNOVATIVE ATTEMPT TO EVALUATE IT
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We have developed our analyses based on the assumption that happiness indicates the positive emotional harmony with oneself, in particular with: a) personal status; b) living conditions and c) life perspectives. We consider the feeling of happiness registered in 2016/17 by the Eighth wave of the European Social Survey (ESS). Our main research questions here are why people in different European countries feel or do not feel happy; what the main factors influencing this feeling are, what their strongest impact is, and what the main set of differences and similarities across different parts of Europe are. We have selected eleven ESS European countries for the analyses: Spain, Portugal, The UK, Germany, The Netherlands, Hungary, Estonia, Norway, Sweden, Poland and The Czech Republic. The main criteria for choosing them were the following: a) geographical location b) socio-political background c) economic development (Mature vs. Emerging economies). In this analysis we have used the sociological interpretations of happiness (Tilkidgiev, 2006; Veenhoven, 2008; Durand & Exton, 2019; Dimova & Dimov, 2010; OECD, 2017; Peasgood, Foster, & Dolan, 2019). Empirical evidences from the ESS suggest that happiness is not equal to life satisfaction –neither in daily nor from more general perspectives. In all countries, people that feel happy are more than those who are satisfied with their lives. In other words, people can feel happy even if not totally satisfied with their life as a whole. In the European context, the strongest determinants of happiness are age, health, income, religion and education.
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