Children are generally happy worldwide, but those in European countries are more satisfied with their friendships while kids in Africa are happier with their school lives, a study conducted across 15 countries has found.
The study of 50,000 children by Goethe University in Frankfurt also found that children in northern European countries are particularly dissatisfied with their appearance and self-confidence.
The survey was undertaken in 2013 and 2014 in 15 countries – Algeria, Colombia, Estonia, Ethiopia, Germany, Israel, Nepal, Norway, Poland, Romania, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Turkey and the UK.
Most of the children in the study rated their satisfaction with life as a whole (on a scale from zero to ten) positively, but the percentage of children with very high well-being (10 out of 10) varied from around 78 per cent in Turkey and 77 per cent in Romania and Colombia to around 40 per cent in South Korea.
The percentage with low well-being (less than 5 out of 10) varied from less than 2 per cent in Romania and Colombia to over 7 per cent in South Korea and South Africa.
The survey asked children about all key aspects of their lives including their family and home life, friendships, money and possessions, school life, local area, time use, personal well-being, views on children’s rights, and their overall happiness.
Children’s well-being decreased between the ages of 10 and 12 in many European countries and in South Korea, while there was no age pattern in other countries such as Israel and Ethiopia.
Overall happiness did not vary between girls and boys, but there were significant gender differences in satisfaction with oneself (body, appearance and self-confidence) in Europe and South Korea, but not in the other countries in the survey in Asia, Africa and South America.
The study found substantial differences between countries in how children spent their time. For example, children tended to report spending much more time on homework in Estonia and Poland than in South Korea and England.
Children in Poland, Norway and Israel spent the most time playing sports and exercising.
Children in some countries (including Algeria, Nepal and South Africa) spent much more time caring for siblings and other family members than in other countries (such as Germany, Turkey and South Korea).