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Many of the world’s young people are struggling, new data shows

The latest World Happiness Report shows a decline in wellbeing for the 15 to 24 age group across many developed countries.

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Less than 1 minute Minutes

Traditionally, people around the world aged between 15 and 24 have reported higher levels of satisfaction with their lives than older people. This year’s World Happiness Report shows that is no longer the case for some regions.

The study found that 15-to-24-year-olds from North America, Australia and New Zealand (grouped together in the report) are now less happy than their elders, while those in Western Europe are trending the same way.

Director of the Wellbeing Research Centre and editor of the study, Prof Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, told the Guardian that the findings were “disconcerting.”

[See more: Mental health issues are affecting younger children, data shows]

“To think that in some parts of the world children are already experiencing the equivalent of a midlife crisis, demands immediate policy action,” he said. “[It] contradicts a well-established notion … that kids start out happier before they slide down the U-curve towards a mid-life crisis before [wellbeing] picks up again.”

Happiness also fell in the Middle East and Africa for all age groups. In contrast, the World Happiness Report showed that happiness levels across all age groups in East Asia have increased. This was also the case for Central and Eastern Europe. 

Finland was declared the happiest place in the world overall for the seventh year in a row in 2024, while the highest placed Latin American country was Costa Rica at 12. Singapore came in at 30 – the highest ranking for East Asia. Macao was not included in the ranking, but Hong Kong came in at 86 and mainland China at 60.

The World Happiness Report is an annual barometer of wellbeing for 140 countries and territories, compiled by Oxford University’s Wellbeing Research Centre, Gallup and the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network.

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