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European statistics report that larger families are happier than those with one or two children

The key to a happy life has been revealed – having three or more children.

An annual happiness report published by Eurostat, which looks at life satisfaction across EU member states, has found that larger families tend to be much more pleased with their lot than those with one, two, or no children at all.

Those with three or more children rank their happiness as 7.4 on average, with a large minority of those (28 per cent) saying they are “highly happy”. A single man below the age of 65, in contrast, scores an average of 6.6.

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"Generally two adult households, in many cases couples, were happier than people living on their own," the report said.

"Households with children were the happiest, with the exception of single parents who report rather low happiness levels."

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The least happy people, according to the survey, were women aged over 65 who lived alone. One in five of that demographic said they "rarely felt happy".

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The Quality of Life report, which used measures of 0 for miserable, and 10 for extremely happy, found that Scandinavia was at the top of the tables in terms of overall happiness, while Britain rated just above average at 7.3 (where the average was 7.1).

The UK was easily beaten, however, by Sweden, Finland and Switzerland, who all rated as 8. 

Bulgaria, however, is at the bottom of the pile on 4.8, while Greece, Croatia and Hungary also rate their overall happiness as very low.