How happy children are

 UNICEF/HQ98-0383/ ROGER LEMOYNE
A football game in the town of Bajram Curri, Albania.

Two-thirds of all children polled feel happy most of the time, more so in Western Europe (80%) than transition countries (60%). In general, girls feel happy more often than boys as do urban dwellers compared to rural children.

Family situation and socio-economic background influence how often children feel happy. Those in single-parent situations or from poorer families feel less happy. Three in 10 feel happy "only sometimes," and 1% - representing nearly one million children - say they are almost never happy (almost twice as many coming from poor families than others).

Being with friends is the major source of happiness (61% particularly in Western Europe), followed by being with family (54%), doing well in school (41% especially in transition countries and for girls and younger respondents) and playing or having free time (36%, specifically for younger children and boys, but significantly less for only children and those from lower socioeconomic groups).

Leading sources of unhappiness include being punished or scolded (5 in 10); getting poor marks in school (over 4 in 10); and problems or quarrels at home (3 in 10). Children worry most about family problems (45%), doing badly in school (42%) and economic problems (14%, especially in Central Asia and among children from poorer families, older children and children living in households headed by women). Other worries include the environmental, politics, war and future employment.

Click below to view the responses to the questions related to this issue:

• I feel happy…(by region) [view]
• I feel happy (by gender, age, area and socio-economic group)
• I feel happy when… (by region) [view]
• I am most worried… (by region) [view]

This information is provided as a contribution to discussion on important issues affecting children. UNICEF Regional offices conducted the polls, analysis and interpretations of the findings. For more information, please contact the regional poll contact person directly.

About the survey
How happy children are
How children feel at home
How children feel at school
How children feel in today's society
How safe children feel
Children and harmful or illegal substances
How informed children are
Children's views on government and politics
How children see the future