Survey finds South Korean youth among the unhappiest in the world

Posted on : 2017-02-12 13:29 KST Modified on : 2019-10-19 20:29 KST
Most young people point to more economic equality as the most effective solution to their unhappiness
The South Korea page from “Generation Z: Global Citizenship Survey” published by the British-based non-profit Varkey Foundation
The South Korea page from “Generation Z: Global Citizenship Survey” published by the British-based non-profit Varkey Foundation

Young South Koreans recorded some of the world’s lowest levels of happiness and satisfaction with their society, a recent report showed.

“Generation Z: Global Citizenship Survey” published by the British-based non-profit Varkey Foundation showed young South Koreans with a net score of 29 based on responses when asked the question, “Taking everything into consideration to what extent are you happy or unhappy with your life at the moment?” It was the second-lowest score among 20 countries surveyed, coming in ahead only of Japan, which scored 28.

The country scoring highest for happiness was Indonesia with 90, followed by Nigeria (78), Israel (73), and India (72).

Negative responses also outweighed positive ones when young South Koreans were asked if the country they lived in was a “good or bad place to live.” At -6 percentage points it was the only negative score among countries surveyed. Canada ranked first in “good to live” responses with 86%, followed by Nigeria (86%), New Zealand (81%), Australia (79%), and India (75%). South Africa (12%) and Turkey (28%) placed at the bottom ahead of South Korea, both by a significant margin.

Frustration with socioeconomic conditions was particularly high among young South Koreans. When asked to choose “the factor that would make the greatest difference in uniting people,” 42% chose the response “more economic equality, for example, more evenly spread income distribution.” It was the highest rate of anywhere surveyed; China, where a growing wealth gap is seen as a severe problem, scored 40%. A relatively low 18% of South Korean respondents picked “an end to the prejudice on the grounds of race, religion and gender,” which was the most common response among other young survey participants, with an average score of 30%.

Young South Koreans were also most negative when asked whether residence and employment should be made easier for immigrants, scoring -29 percentage points. Young people in India (33), China (30), and Brazil (30) were more open to immigrants, while South Korea, Israel (-19), Russia (-19), and Nigeria (-13) were unwelcoming.

South Korean young people ranked highest in dissatisfaction with the government as well (-29 percentage points), while interest in the community was smallest. When asked to name their “most important personal value,” 51% of young South Koreans gave “working hard” - far ahead of other responses such as “helping my family” (22%), “honesty” (15%), “looking after the wider world” (5%), or “kindness to others” (5%).

The top two responses given by young South Koreans when asked to name three things that caused the most anxiety in life were “school pressures” (70%) and “money” (66%). The percentages were highest for all countries surveyed.

The study was conducted in Sep. and Oct. 2016 with 20,088 young people aged 15 to 21 around the world. Around 1,000 people each participating from 20 countries in Asia (South Korea, Japan, China, India, and Indonesia), the Middle East (Israel and Turkey), Europe (Britain, Germany, France, Italy, and Russia), Africa (Nigeria and South Africa), the Americas (the US, Canada, Brazil, and Argentina), and Oceania (Australia and New Zealand).

By Cho Il-jun, staff reporter

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