Where do the happiest children in the world live? It depends on how you define happiness, according to Children’s Worlds International Survey of Children’s Well-BeingThe recent survey, encompassing 50,000 children between the ages of eight and twelve in fifteen different countries (which did not include the United States), examined areas including family and home life, friendships, schools, exercise and activity levels and overall happiness levels. The findings included that children in Africa were happiest with regards to school, European children were happiest with their friendships, and that boys and girls were equally happy in general (although in several countries there were gender differences regarding satisfaction with oneself). In positive news, most of the surveyed children reported that they were happy. The highest self-reported rates of well-being (10 on a scale of 0-10) were 78% in Turkey and 77% in Colombia and Romania, while in South Korea the rates hovered around 40%.

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The survey also highlighted the different living situations children are in throughout the world: 61% of children from Nepal live with both parents and grandparents, while less than 10% of children in Estonia, Israel, and the United Kingdom do. In England and Estonia as well as in Norway, more than 10% of children live in two different homes. There were also clear differences in how time was spent in various countries doing activities including homework, caring for siblings and relatives, and playing sports and exercising.

The survey also revealed awareness and knowledge of children’s rights: 77% of Norwegian children stated that they understood children’s rights and 84% said that adults generally respected their rights. Other recent reports show that the Scandinavian countries have high levels of child happiness and are the best place for maternal health. The Jacobs Foundation, which funded the study, hopes that these insights from the children will help provide better policies and practices worldwide to improve children’s health and happiness.

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