It’s official: We’re happy, satisfied and feel life’s worthwhile

CSO study shows three out of four rank satisfaction with life as high

How happy are we? Despite water charges, property taxes and the universal social charge, it seems we’re an impressively upbeat bunch of people, us Irish.

A Central Statistics Office survey on wellbeing shows more than three-quarters of the population ranked their overall satisfaction with life as “high” or “very high”.

When asked about day-to-day emotions, a similar proportion rated their happiness the previous day as “very high” or “high”.

In addition, four out of every five adults asked to rank whether they viewed the things they did as worthwhile gave themselves a high rating.


The two ends of the age divide showed the highest levels of satisfaction with their lives and with how worthwhile they viewed them.

Those aged between 16 and 19, and aged 60-plus, reported the highest overall ratings.

Happiness spectrum

At the other end of the happiness spectrum, almost 15 per cent of the population reported experiencing a high level of anxiety the previous day. More than a quarter of all females rated their anxiety as “medium” or “high”.

The jobless were also likely to be more unhappy with their lives than the rest of the population.

Nearly one in three unemployed people rated their “happiness yesterday” as medium or lower, compared with only one in five employed people.

If, however, we think we’re significantly happier than elsewhere, the CSO figures put paid to that notion.

Comparable figures with the UK show we had a very similar rating to our neighbours.

The Republic of Ireland and the North had the highest ratings for happiness. Ireland had the second highest rating for how worthwhile people felt their lives were.

But we also had the highest percentage of people who felt low or anxious the previous day.

The questions formed part of a once-off research project into measuring wellbeing by the Central Statistics Office.

The idea of a happiness index was pioneered in modern times by Bhutan, with its gross national happiness index.

Such an index has since been adopted by many other countries as a complement to economic indicators such as gross national product.

Carl O'Brien

Carl O'Brien

Carl O'Brien is Education Editor of The Irish Times. He was previously chief reporter and social affairs correspondent