The new edition of Ipsos’ Global Happiness report finds there’s been a slight dip in happiness year-on-year as economic and political clouds loom overhead.

Key findings:

  • Happiness is higher than it was during the height of the pandemic but lower than it was in the early 2010s. 71% across 30 countries describe themselves as happy, higher than the August 2020 figure of 63%, but lower than the 2011 figure of 77%.
  • Looking at the long-term trends, Türkiye has seen the biggest decline in reported happiness since 2011 (down 30 percentage points), while Spain has seen the biggest increase during that time (up 7pp).
  • In 2024, the Netherlands is the country where happiness is highest, with 85% describing themselves as happy. At the other end of the scale, Hungary and South Korea (48%) are the least happy.
  • Family and friends are the aspects of people’s lives that there is the most satisfaction. Their country politics and economy, as well as their own personal financial situation, are the areas where satisfaction is lowest.
  • Younger people are less likely to say they feel in control of their life compared to those older. 76% of Baby Boomers feel in control, while only 65% of Gen Z do. Gen Z are also more likely to be less satisfied with their mental health than other generations.


Happiness over time

People are feeling pretty happy as memories of the pandemic fade away.

Ipsos’ Global Happiness 2024 polling finds a strong majority (71% on average across 30 countries) say taking all things together they’re very/rather happy.

That’s down slightly from last year, when 73%, reported being happy. But, happiness levels are now up eight percentage points from the first year of the COVID-19 crisis in 2020 (63%).

While there’s been a rebound since a global pandemic was declared, happiness levels are below historic highs of 77% reached in the first year of our happiness polling in 2011, which stayed steady at 77% in 2013.

The Netherlands is once again the happiest country in the world this year, with 85% saying they’re happy (no change since 2023), followed very closely by Mexico at 83% (+2pp since last year). Being the “happiest” country isn’t a big surprise to Daan Versteeg, Country Manager for Ipsos in the Netherlands.

“In ‘egalitarian’ countries people usually are happier. The Netherlands is such a country.”

Though, Versteeg notes: “if more Scandinavian countries would have been included in this particular survey, I wouldn’t have expected the Netherlands to rank No. 1 per se but a top three position or so, would still be a possibility.”

At the other end of the scale, just under half of people in Hungary (48%, -2pp) and South Korea (48%, -5pp) say they’re happy. While Hungarians have consistently been pretty unhappy, the happiness levels in South Korea have taken a dive from 71% in 2011.

There isn’t one reason for the 23pp drop, but instead it’s likely a mix of factors says Hwangyle Park, Chief Executive Officer of Ipsos in South Korea. While the country has seen significant economic growth in recent decades that prosperity hasn’t necessarily been spread out evenly, notes Park. And South Korea, like several other countries, has a growing aging population and a declining birth rate that looks to be leading to/reflecting “increasing anxieties about the future,” Park adds.

In South Korea, happiness is slightly higher among Gen Z and Baby Boomers (50% and 56% respectively), compared to Gen X and Millennials (46% and 45%). Park points out that these generations, those aged between their late twenties up to their late fifties, are the ones driving the economy as well as other parts of Korean society. “They have to support both their parents and children, and they might be the last generation who ‘has to’ support the parental generation and be the first generation who cannot expect their children to support themselves in the future. This demanding duty could be one of the very reasons of their unhappiness.”

Darkness creeps in

The vast majority of people in South Korea (74%) are unsatisfied with the social/political situation in their country and the same proportion (74%) say they’re unsatisfied with the economic situation.

And South Korea is not alone in feeling this way. Just under two in five (39% on average across 30 countries) are satisfied with the social/political situation in their country, down one pp from 2023. A very similar proportion (40%) are satisfied with the economic situation in their country, which is unchanged year-on-year.

Even in countries with very high happiness levels, like the Netherlands, these clouds loom overhead. Almost 2 in 3 (64%) Dutch people are unsatisfied with the social and political situation in their country, while 54% say they’re unsatisfied with the economic situation in the Netherlands.

“Individually we are pretty satisfied, but we are aware of collective challenges,” says Versteeg. “Under the surface of an egalitarian society overall, there are topics that demonstrate inequality and subsequent challenges. For instance, wealth — house ownership is common for some groups, but affordable house ownership is absolutely not a given for many. Also, there is an increasing group that is turning its back on society.”

“What I believe is that in our political system it is relatively easy for new parties to breakthrough – which enables people to cast their voice and vote for change. That feeling of control may well add to the Dutch being happier than others.”

And at a global level, older people are feeling the least optimistic about the state of their country. A mere 31% of Baby Boomers* are satisfied with the social/political situation in their country, followed by Gen Xers (36%), Millennials (44%) and Gen Zers (44%).

A similar pattern emerges when it comes to the economy. The older generations (Baby Boomers, 32%; Gen Xers, 36%) are more likely to say they’re  satisfied with the economic situation in their country versus the younger generations (Gen Zers, 41% and Millennials, 43%).

Lots of bright spots

Money is another pinch point around the world with 54% saying they’re satisfied with their financial situation as the cost-of-living crisis drags on, with men (57%) slightly more likely to be satisfied than women (52%).

People are generally much more satisfied with other areas of day-to-day lives, with some interesting divides emerging when viewed through a demographic lens.

For example, the vast majority of all parents (84%) say they’re satisfied with their children. But, at a generational level Gen Zers with kids look to be struggling with only 64% being satisfied, in comparison to 90% of Gen X parents, followed very closely by Baby Boomers (89%) and Millennials (88%).

Almost three-quarters (73%) of people are satisfied with their friends, with a slightly higher proportion of Baby Boomers (82%) reporting being satisfied with their friends than younger generations (Gen Xers, 75%; Millennials, 74%; Gen Zers, 75%).

Almost four in five (78%) are satisfied with their level of education, though those with higher qualifications are substantially more satisfied than those with a low level of education (86% versus 65%).

And while a great virtual ink has been spilled over workers being unsatisfied — remember the so-called Great Resignation or Quiet Quitting? — most (73%) actually report they’re satisfied with their jobs, with those in higher-income households saying they’re more satisfied (79%) than those in lower-income households (63%).

About the study

These are the findings of a 30-country Ipsos survey conducted December 22, 2023 – January 5, 2024, among 23,269 adults aged 18 and older in India, 18-74 in Canada, Republic of Ireland, Malaysia, South Africa, Turkey, and the United States, 20-74 in Thailand, 21-74 in Indonesia and Singapore, and 16-74 in all other countries.

*Generation Z (born between 1996-2012), Millennials (born between 1980-1995), Generation X (born between 1966-1979) and Baby Boomers (born between 194


Kieran O’Leary, Director, Ipsos B&A. Tel: 01 438 9000