How has the epidemic changed the measure of happiness globally? Older people are happier, and younger people are more miserable

March 20 of each year is the International Day of Happiness, but this year coincides with the passage of the most difficult year for humanity due to the Corona epidemic, how is the global happiness scale affected by the impact of the pandemic, which represents a greater threat to the elderly than the youth?

In reaction to the exceptional circumstances that humankind has been going through since the outbreak of the Corona virus at the beginning of last year 2020 and its transformation A pandemic afflicted life With almost paralysis, researchers associated with the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network have tried to study the impact of the epidemic on human moods, in conjunction with the International Day of Happiness this year.

Travel restrictions affected workers traveling across the border / Reuters

Politicians and officials talk a lot about the impact of “Covid-19” on public health and the economy, and this seems natural in light of the infection of more than 123 million people with Covid-19, more than two million seven hundred and fifteen thousand of them have lost their lives, and economic closures have caused the loss of Millions of families around the world for their livelihood.

But for most people these are abstract considerations. What they experience every day are moods, whether they feel anxious and sad, or joy and optimism if they are lucky, all of which seem secondary or almost no one stops at them.

How can happiness be measured?

Gallup polls have asked the same questions in dozens of countries, and the most telling question is one that asks respondents to imagine a ladder in steps numbered from zero to ten, the top of which represents the best life you can live, while the bottom rung represents the worst. What degree are you in now?

Somewhat surprisingly, people indicated in their responses to this question that the world was just as happy during the face of the horrific epidemic it was before the outbreak of the new Corona virus, according to a report by the newspaper The Economist American.

The average scores on the Cantrell scale in 95 countries – without taking population into account – rose slightly from 5.81 in the 2017-2019 period to 5.85 in 2020, but the pattern of life satisfaction has changed; “Covid-19” has made the elderly more joyful, and in a few countries, the feeling of happiness has decreased somewhat in this age group; But it rose among others.

America’s elderly are happier than younger people / Photo from Reuters

It is true that the Corona epidemic threatens the elderly much more than the young; The risk of dying after contracting the disease doubles every 8 years of age, but the epidemic has left a feeling of joy in them. Globally, happiness increased from 2017-2019 to 2020 by 0.22 points on the Cantrell scale among people over the age of 60.

For her part, Selena Beatrice, a 64-year-old psychologist in Brazil, pointed to a list of things that could spoil her mood. They include: epidemic, rampant corruption, hateful government, and the misery of others. And yet she describes herself as getting happier and more optimistic despite everything.

The happiness curve is upward in Britain

In Britain and other wealthy countries, the age profile of happiness before the outbreak almost looked like a U when placed on a graph. People started their adult life in a joyful state, then became more bleaker in middle age. Then after the age of 50, they began to feel happy again. However, if they reached a very advanced age, they fell again into depression. Today, however, the happiness pattern has become an upward curve.

Young people had a difficult year, as many lost their jobs. In the United States, for example, the unemployment rate for people between the ages of 20 and 24 jumped from 6.3% in February 2020 to 25.6% two months later (but fell again to 9.6%). % Last month). In some affluent countries, young women in particular have gone through difficult times. They often work in sectors affected by the closure, such as hospitality. When schools closed, many of them bore the grave burden of caring for the children.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson – Reuters

Some countries performed better than others. While British happiness declined in 2020, Germany rose from fifteenth to seventh on the scale of the happiest country in the world. For most of the past year, Germany has fought novel coronavirus Much better than most of Europe, despite losing out in the competition to develop a vaccine; This prompted the popular German newspaper Bild, to announce in February: “Dear Britain, we make you happy.”

The happiest countries in the world have not been affected by the epidemic

Remarkably, the countries that were at the top of the happiness chart before the pandemic remained at the forefront. The top three ranked countries in 2020 – Finland, Iceland and Denmark – were among the top four in 2017-2019. The three countries have dealt well with “Covid-19”, and have death rates of less than 21 people per 100,000 of their population, while Iceland has a negative mortality rate.

Finland is the happiest country in the world

The most interesting suggestion in the World Happiness Report is that some of the links between Covid-19 and happiness go in both directions. The authors of the report do not point out that happiness helps countries fight COVID-19, but rather argue that one of the things that preserves national happiness and also contributes to making countries better at dealing with epidemics is trust. Many of the countries that have dealt better with “Covid-19”, such as the Nordic countries and New Zealand, have a high rate of trust in institutions and strangers.

Why has happiness declined in Latin America?

If true, it may help explain the broader regional change: the decline in happiness in Latin America and the increase in happiness in East Asia. Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Mexico are less happy in 2020; China, Japan and Taiwan became happier, although in South Korea they fell slightly. It is as if Latin American countries were enjoying the wrong kind of happiness before 2020, says John Hellywell, who wrote part of the World Happiness Report, an happiness that persists through close social ties with people, rather than through high levels of social trust.

President of Mexico Lopez Obrador / Reuters

A global survey in 2019 found that only 52% of people in Latin America and the Caribbean trusted their neighbors – in a study based on the question of whether neighbors would return their wallet if it fell – while only 41% believed the police would return it. This is the lowest share compared to other regions surveyed.

People can turn away from each other, and they do, but this is difficult emotionally in countries where people are usually social. Mexicans were deprived of their entertainment lunches on Fridays and family gatherings on Sundays (although some continued anyway). “The epidemic has changed a lot. It forced us to stop living our lives,” says Edmilson de Souza Santos, a construction worker in the Brazilian city of Barueri.

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