Happiness is a warm Latvian

The next time someone tries to kid you that Latvians are typically of a sunny and carefree disposition, show them the graph below.

Data published by Eurostat April 23 shows that when asked how happy they are, Latvians give the most downbeat answers in the whole of the European Union. Those jolly Lithuanians and beaming Estonians declare themselves considerably happier than we. 

Right out there on the far reaches of euphoria are the Netherlands, Ireland and – happiest of all – Belgium. Yes, Belgium. It may be the diet of moules-frites and strong beer. Sadly, the data on this is lacking.

In 2022, 65.2 % of men and 62.8 % of women in the EU reported having felt happy ‘always or most of the time’ in the prior four weeks. At country level, the picture was mixed: the highest percentages were registered in the Benelux countries (over 75 %, for both sexes) followed by Ireland, Austria, Poland and Finland. The lowest shares were noted for Romania (47.1 % of men, 43.3 % of women) and particularly for Latvia and Bulgaria (between 36.0 % and 37.5 %)

Happiness in the EU
Happiness in the EU

The news that Latvians are not Belgian in disposition comes as no surprise given previous happy-clappy rankings which we have reported and which usually conclude that we are not wandering around with a rictus grin fixed on our faces. Five years ago we were also the most happy-averse nation in the EU, so you cannot accuse us of being inconsistent in our sentiments.

Far from being sad that we are sad, we are actually quite happy that we are sad. We're proud of it. It shows an admirable, if admittedly grim, realism. Look around you at what's happening in the world! There, you already feel slightly more Latvian.

And don't be too quick to dismiss Latvians' downbeat self-assessment as mere misery. According to parallel data published April 23, we are also among the most trusting people in Europe. Combine the two data sets and we might speculatively conclude that the Latvian view is you shouldn't trust people who seem a bit too happy, which sounds like extremely good advice. 

Trusting others data
Trusting others data

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