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French among least happy in Europe, and unhappier than last year

The Local France
The Local France - [email protected]
French among least happy in Europe, and unhappier than last year
Two France fans sporting wigs with their team's colours smile ahead of the UEFA Women's Euro 2022 semi-final (Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS / AFP)

The French have hung onto their reputation for a certain gloom, with the latest world happiness ranking showing France lagging behind most of Europe, as well as the UK, US, Canada and Australia.

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After reaching their highest ever country ranking on last year's World Happiness Report, France has dropped down one spot, coming in 21st place internationally.

The ranking is developed by Gallop World Poll, which surveys people across the world, asking them to think of a ladder - with "the best possible life for them being a 10 and the worst possible life being a 0. They are then asked to rate their own current lives on that 0 to 10 scale. The rankings are from nationally representative samples over three years".

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The data is solely based on how an individual assesses their own life. As for France, the country scored an average of 6.661 on the happiness scale, lower than Denmark's 7.586 and higher than Italy whose average score was 6.405 - it is worth pointing out that the report considers scores above 4 to be "happy".

READ MORE: MAP: Where are the happiest areas of France?

The Nordic countries of Finland, Denmark, Iceland, Sweden and Norway, remained squarely in the top 10 for happiest countries.

The inhabitants of the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Australia all ranked higher than France, placing 15th, 19th, and 12th respectively, while the least happy country of all those surveyed was Afghanistan.

Are people happier or less happy in France?

In 2022, France scored 6.687 - just slightly higher than in 2023 and enough to boost the country to 20th place. In 2023, the drop of 0.026 was enough to bump France down a place.

Screenshot by The Local of France's country page for the World Happiness Report (https://worldhappiness.report/)

Looking more specifically at the data, France ranked in 10th place when looking at the gap in happiness between the top and the bottom halves of the population. Generally, researchers found that people tend to be happier living in countries where the happiness gap is smaller. Finland - the happiest country in 2023, came in third place on this ranking, for instance.

Ten years ago, in 2013, France came in 25th place on the ranking, scoring 6.764, which is higher than the country's scores in both 2022 and 2023. 

On a general level, the 2022 report found that the global average of national life evaluations remained relatively stable over the past 10 years (from 2012-2022). It also found that global happiness has changed over time in some ways - one trend that the researchers noticed was that negative feelings, such as worry, sadness, and anger, have risen internationally and that there has been a slight long-term decline in the enjoyment of life.

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What is the quality of life like in France?

The World Happiness Report is concerned only with how people feel about their life, it doesn't consider any other indicators.

In a separate study, France's National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies compiled self-reported quality of life data among the population between 2010-19. 

These researchers found that the average person living in mainland France rated their quality of life at 7.4 out of 10 - with all responses given before the pandemic, and that the results differed based on geographical location, age, wealth and health status.

According to the OECD, when it comes to quality of life, France performs well across a number sectors included on the organisations 'Better Life Index'. Notably, France "outperforms the average in work-life balance, safety, social connections and civic engagement", according to OECD data.

The Local conducted its own - albeit, non-scientific - survey where readers were able to rank their satisfaction with the quality of life in France.

A whopping 91 percent said that life in France was better than in their home country, with work-life balance, great public services and magnificent culinary offerings among the reasons why.   

READ MORE: Readers reveal: What makes the quality of life in France so high

The happiest countries, according to the 2022 World Happiness Survey, are;

  1. Finland
  2. Denmark
  3. Iceland
  4. Israel
  5. Netherlands
  6. Sweden
  7. Norway
  8. Switzerland
  9. Luxembourg
  10. New Zealand
  11. Austria
  12. Australia
  13. Canada
  14. Ireland
  15. United States
  16. Germany
  17. Belgium
  18. Czechia
  19. United Kingdom
  20. Lithuania
  21. France
  22. Slovenia
  23. Costa Rica
  24. Romania

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