Is green space and cash the key to Swedish joy?

The Local Sweden
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Is green space and cash the key to Swedish joy?
Do Gothenburg's botanical gardens spread happiness on the west coast? Photo: Nicho Södling/Image Bank Sweden

Swedes and Norwegians are the most satisfied in Europe with their access to green spaces and recreational zones and among the most content with their financial situations, according to the latest EU report analysing happiness across the 28-member bloc.


People living in Sweden gave their overall life satisfaction the highest score in Europe, awarding an average mark of 8.0 out of a possible 10, a figure only shared with Nordic neighbours Denmark, Iceland and Finland as well as Switzerland.

But while respondents in almost all EU member states ranked their personal relationships as the most satisfying thing in their lives, both Swedes and Norwegians gave slightly more weight to having green and other recreational areas to enjoy, giving a mark of 8.4 and 8.5 respectively, compared with an average score of 7.1 across the EU.
However Swedes still rated their personal relationships highly, giving them a score of 8.3 percent, ahead of an EU average of 7.8.
Along with people in Switzerland, Swedes also rated their financial situations better than those questioned from any other European Union member state, recording an average score of 7.6, compared with 6.0 across the bloc.
'Use of time' was the category that provoked the most negative response from participants, with with this indicator given a grade of 7.3. This suggests that Swedes continue to place a high value on work-life balance, at a time when increasing numbers are being asked to work outside of regular office hours.

The figures were revealed on Monday by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, as part of a closer look at data recorded in 2013 and initially released in March to mark 2015's World Happiness Day.

Eurostat's report suggests that Bulgarians are the least happy with their lives, recording an overall score of 4.8.
Sweden has consistently done well in life satisfaction lists in recent years, thanks to strong social support, affluence, and relatively honest and accountable governments.
But last month, a study by the UN ranked Sweden the eighth happiest country in the world, down from fifth place in the last survey two years ago.
"A lot of people are pretty happy despite everything. But we take this happiness for granted in a way, so when things are shown to be less than perfect we like to discuss it," happiness researcher Filip Fors from Umeå University told The Local at the time.
"You should be careful not to compare countries that are quite close to each other in surveys, because it varies quite a lot depending on the measurements you use," he added, saying he was not unnerved by Sweden's dip in the global rankings.
"I wouldn't want to try to analyze that. It can very well just be due to coincidence. If a country falls from fifth to twentieth place it would maybe raise a few eyebrows, but not otherwise," he said.


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