Which countries have the happiest children?

Young people in England are ranked nearly bottom of an international happiness table, coming 13th of 16 countries

English children are among the unhappiest in the world, a wide-ranging study has revealed. 

Young people in England are ranked nearly bottom of an international happiness table, coming 13th of 16 countries. 

The study, which interviewed 17,000 eight-year-olds across four continents, reveals kids in England are less happy than their counterparts in Estonia, Poland and Turkey. 

Only South Korea, Nepal and Ethiopia ranked lower. 

Children’s Worlds, which conducted the research, found Romania topped the table in self-reported life satisfaction. 

The findings are in stark contrast to the reputation the country had for its burgeoning orphanages a few decades ago. 

The study, co-ordinated in England by the Social Policy Research Unit (SPRU) at York, asked the schoolchildren to rate various aspects of their lives, including, family and home life, friendships, money and possessions, personal wellbeing, their overall happiness and other criteria.

British children came 11th when describing how safe they felt at home, but 15th – one but last – for feeling they have a quiet place in their home to study. 

And despite the majority reporting they feel safe at school, children came third last for liking going to school and for their relationship with their teachers.

But the UK came a staggering second overall for feeling left out by their peers in class. 

More than half of girls reported they had been hit by a fellow child, and the figure was even higher – more than a third - for boys. 

Sam Royston, Policy Director at The Children’s Society, said: “It’s deeply worrying that eight-year-old children living in England are less happy than children living in a wide range of other countries across the world. 

“Many of these children say they don’t like school and also report being bullied.” 

He added the government needed to be proactive in providing counselling and funds to promote children’s mental well-being.

He added: “Giving children a happy childhood should be a top priority.”

In comparison English children came ninth – roughly in the middle - for talking to friends, and having fun with them. 

Gwyther Rees, of SPRU at the University of York, said: “There are some quite troubling messages from England and the picture is quite similar to what we found with older age groups. 

“Children are happy at home and with friends but less happy at school where there seems to be an issue around bullying and being left out.”

Regarding material goods such as TVs, computers, good clothes and money, the majority of youngsters felt they had adequate possessions. 

Out of the 990 English children surveyed, 84 per cent thought they had good access to a family car, compared with just three per cent in Ethiopia.

But despite a relative abundance of wealth, adolescents’ languished near the bottom of the tables when it came to body image, ranked 12th for being satisfied with their body, and 13th for the way they look.

Columbia and Romania came first and second in both categories, but scored low on prosperity.  

Jonathan Bradshaw, professor of social policy at the University of York, who co-edited the report, acknowledged the lack of relationship between a healthy body-image and possessions. 

He told The Guardian: “There is something going on in the UK and it seems to be focused on self-esteem and confidence.

 “It’s very difficult to prescribe what to do about it, but I think one thing that we certainly ought to do is make more effort to manage bullying.”

Comments