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China Tops Ipsos Global Happiness Ranking, but Some Citizens Disagree

Ipsos’ global happiness survey results have gone viral on Chinese social media, where many netizens are questioning the legitimacy of the results

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5:29 AM HKT, Sat March 25, 2023 1 mins read

Where are people happiest? According to a new global happiness survey released by Paris-headquartered multinational market research and consulting firm Ipsos, the Chinese mainland boasts the highest proportion of happy citizens among the 32 surveyed markets.

The company published the new study on March 14, a few days prior to the International Day of Happiness on March 20. The survey found that 91% of Chinese participants described themselves as happy, with respondents from Saudi Arabia (86%) and the Netherlands (85%) coming in second and third place.

Conversely, respondents from Poland (58%), South Korea (57%), and Hungary (50%) reported the lowest levels of happiness.

Ipsos stated on its website that the survey was conducted from December 2022 to January 2023 among 22,508 adults under the age of 74.

The survey results soon went viral on Chinese social media, with one hashtag on the microblogging platform Weibo receiving 190 million views. However, many netizens questioned the legitimacy of the results and expressed their unhappiness.

“I wonder who participated in the survey, was anyone involved in this?” asked one Weibo user. Another joked, “If you’re not happy, you’re not Chinese.”

The survey reminded many netizens of a 2012 street interview by state-backed broadcaster CCTV where a reporter asked migrant workers if they were happy.

In the CCTV segment, one interviewee refused to answer the question before replying, “My surname is Zeng.” In Mandarin, “are you happy” (你幸福吗, ni xingfu ma) sounds the same as “is your surname Fu” (你姓福吗), leading many news watchers to interpret the reply as a sarcastic ‘no’ to the question.

Chinese workers in a factory, global happiness study 2023, ipsos global happiness survey, ipsos survey

China is well known for its intense work culture, often called ‘996,’ which refers to working 9 AM to 9 PM six days per week. Image via Depositphotos

In response to the positive survey results, many young web users also pointed out that they and their peers are subjected to increasing pressure from work, parents, and society in this era of ‘involution’ (内卷, neijuan), a Chinese slang term used to describe the societal phenomena of overwork and intense competition in China.

However, as some netizens pointed out, the general level of happiness in China may not necessarily be related to the pressures of life. Some netizens said they appreciate China’s “stable and safe environment.”

“After all, no other major countries can compare to China when it comes to the high level of stability and security that China provides for its citizens,” reads one comment.

Cover image via VCG

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