Poles are happy and Germans are sour, according to new European data

By John Cody
3 Min Read

Poland, often perceived as a nation of complainers, has defied stereotypes to become the second most satisfied nation in the European Union, as revealed by Eurostat’s latest data. Interestingly, Germany, considerably wealthier than Poland, has fallen to second place from the bottom in the EU, only ahead of economically challenged Bulgaria.

Eurostat’s latest data on life satisfaction within EU countries highlights significant changes. As part of the EU-SILC (European Union statistics on income and living conditions) survey, Europeans were asked to rate their life satisfaction on a scale from 0 to 10, where 0 indicates extreme dissatisfaction and 10 signifies complete satisfaction.

The EU average score in 2022 was 7.1 points. This score has remained relatively stable over the years, with a 7.2 in 2021, 7.3 in 2018, and 7.0 in 2013, suggesting that the late 2010s, a period of economic prosperity, were probably the happiest times. In 18 of the 27 EU countries, overall life satisfaction was rated at or above the EU average.

Source: Eurostat.

Breaking down the data by individual countries, Austria claims the top spot with an average score of 7.9, slightly lower than in 2022 but still the highest in the EU. Poland and Romania, both previously lower-ranked, have surged to second place with a score of 7.7, tied with Finland, which was the happiest nation in the EU as recently as 2018.

Following closely are Belgium and the Netherlands, both scoring 7.6. Denmark and Slovenia each scored 7.5, with Slovenia notably improving from a lower ranking in 2013 (7.0) and Denmark dropping from the top position (8.0).

At the bottom of the list is Bulgaria, with an average score of only 5.6, consistently occupying the last place. More surprising is Germany’s penultimate position, with a score of 6.5 in 2022, lower than Greece, Latvia, and Croatia. This represents a significant decline for Germany, which had the same score as Poland (7.3) in 2013. Since then, Poland’s satisfaction has increased by 0.4 points, while Germany has seen a steep decline of 0.8 points, the most significant drop in the EU.

The report also notes changing trends in life satisfaction. While satisfaction is rapidly increasing in post-communist and southern European countries, it is declining in Northern and Central Europe. Along with Germany’s decline, Sweden and Denmark have seen a drop of 0.5 points from 2013 to 2022, and there are also noticeable decreases in Luxembourg, Finland, and the Netherlands. Meanwhile, Cyprus, Hungary, Portugal, and Bulgaria have seen increases of 0.8 points or more. Estonia, Romania, Slovenia, the Czech Republic, Italy, Croatia, and Greece have also experienced significant increases.

This shift suggests a changing landscape of contentment within the EU, highlighting the dynamic nature of societal happiness and well-being across different regions.

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