The secrets of happiness

Since 2010, Ipsos has been carrying out the Global Happiness survey, a worldwide study not just about how people feel, but also what makes them happy. This year, an average of three in four adults (73%) in the 32 countries surveyed say they are happy.

Ipsos | Flair | France 2023 | Happiness
The author(s)
  • Yves Bardon Ipsos Knowledge Centre, France
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The French are 74% (as are the Swedes), ahead of Britons (70%), Spaniards (69%), Italians, Belgians (68%), and Germans (67%), but behind the Dutch (85%), who top the list in Europe.

Ipsos | Flair | France 2023 | HappinessWhat are the French happy about?

As in most countries of the world, their children (84%), their relationship with their partner (81%), contact with nature (80%), their friends (77%), close circle of family and friends (74%), and feeling loved (70%) all count. Material goods (79%), living conditions (76%) and available free time (74%) also count towards satisfaction with life. Religion or spirituality only comes into play for 65%.

At the other end of the scale, the Global Happiness survey reveals that the French are least satisfied with their country's economic situation and socio-political context, at 28% and 32% respectively (down 12 points and 8 points on the world average).

The tension between private happiness and public unhappiness can be seen for years in the gap between perceptions of the general situation in France or the direction the country is taking and those on personal life and its prospects. It has been reinforced by a retreat into the intimate sphere – an antidote to a hostile environment, a feeling reinforced by the war in Ukraine: 89% of French people believe that "we live in a dangerous world"; for 64% "in the coming months, a world war could well happen" and 59% say that "globalisation is a threat to France".

Ipsos | Flair | France 2023 | HappinessTo be happy is to give meaning to one’s life

On a global scale, the survey also shows that people are more likely to say they are happy if they are convinced that their life makes a difference, if they feel in control of it, if they feel valued and are satisfied with their material situation. The drivers of happiness vary little by gender, with the notable exception of relationships with partners and wellbeing (more important for women) and financial situation (more important for men).

To be happy is to be well surrounded

To be happy, you need to be able to count on your friends and family, and that's where the problem lies. 69% of the French share this idea like 72% of people around the world.

What about tomorrow?

While interpersonal relationships play an essential role in happiness, a certain pessimism is revealed when it comes to imagining oneself in ten years' time: 43% worldwide think that it will be more difficult for a single person to find their soul mate, for married couples to maintain a harmonious relationship, and to have real friends to rely on, with the French being among the most negative.

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The author(s)
  • Yves Bardon Ipsos Knowledge Centre, France