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Young Germans among 'least happy' Europeans

By EARLE GALE | China Daily Global | Updated: 2023-09-19 09:09

Young people in the major European economic powerhouse of Germany are relatively unhappy in spite of their wealth, according to a study by the United Nations' International Children's Emergency Fund, or UNICEF.

The ranking puts young Germans second-from-last among European nations for happiness and wellbeing, with only Bulgaria below them.

The poll involved people aged 16 to 24 ranking their happiness on a scale of one to 10. The European average came in at 7.5, with Germany scoring 6.6.

The United Kingdom's Telegraph newspaper said the unhappiness measured among young Germans is one of the things that has fueled the rise of far-right political parties, including Alternative for Germany, or AfD.

The party, which was founded in 2013 on a wave of anti-EU and anti-immigrant sentiment, has seen its support skyrocket in national polls recently and now ranks joint-second in the size of its support, with 17 to 19 percent of the vote — a similar amount to that enjoyed by Chancellor Olaf Scholz's Social Democrats.

Thomas Kliche, a political psychologist at the college of Magdeburg-Stendal, told The Telegraph disaffected young people are turning to the far right out of disillusionment with the status quo.

"The current politics in Germany clearly isn't capable of solving the problems of the future," he said. "It's sluggish, contradictory, and divisive. With digitization, younger people are experiencing the unworldliness of the current government. Young people see that and don't feel well represented."

He said, while the AfD party is "clearly not a youth movement "and with it drawing support from all age groups, it will likely benefit from the increasing unhappiness among young people and could continue to expand its support.

At the other end of Europe's happiness rankings, children and young people in Nordic countries again scored well, with the Netherlands, Denmark, and Norway claiming the top three spots.

Children from the Netherlands consistently score well in such rankings, with the UK's Child Poverty Action Group and the World Economic Forum both also having recently ranked the nation top in listings.

The United States-based news website CNBC said the reasons why the Netherlands fares well in such metrics include the fact that people there get an average of more than eight hours of sleep each night, and that the country's 29-hour working week ensures people get a good work-life balance.

Netherlands residents also place less pressure on students, with high grades seen as only one possible route to success. And the nation also encourages young people to express themselves, and prizes the ideal of families sitting down for meals together, the CNBC report added.

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