Young Indians score the highest, while Japan’s “now” generation rounds out the bottom of the list, When it comes to global happiness, according to a survey. The Indian youth are strikingly more optimistic about their own future and also about the future of society. The survey covers 17 countries, including Italy, Russia, China and France. In India, it looked at the middle class, those who had access to the Internet, even if not at home.
By Ruth David
When it comes to global happiness, young Indians score the highest, while Japan’s “now” generation rounds out the bottom of the list, says a new survey.
“The Indian youth are strikingly more optimistic about their own future and also about the future of society. The general picture in other countries is that young people tend to be personal optimists but societal pessimists,” said Mats Lindgren, CEO and founder of Kairos Future Group. He was in New Delhi last week to present the Indian findings of the survey by the Swedish group.
But even though Indians are the happiest, the numbers of those satisfied aren’t very high. “Over 50 percent of the young Indians are very content with their lives as a whole, which can be compared with pessimists such as the young Japanese or Germans, where only 17 percent and 27 percent, respectively, are very satisfied with their lives. This satisfaction is also reflected in optimism about tomorrow,” it found.
The survey covers 17 countries, including Italy, Russia, China and France. In India, it looked at the middle class, those who had access to the Internet, even if not at home. People between 19 and 29 were asked how satisfied they were with parameters like their job, life, family and government.
Indians’ optimism has a lot to do with their economy, just as Japan’s pessimism has a lot to do with the state of business there, said Lindgren. “Young Japanese compare their lives with those of their parents and conclude that it’s now tougher to get a job, make money.”
In France, with high unemployment rates, the reasons are similar, he said. “But it might also be a cultural influence, the general French culture is quite critical, while Indians are happier.”
In Europe, most young people seek a good living environment above all and work-related aspects in life are relatively less important. But the priorities of the Indian youth and young people in other “new economies” are different — for them, work, a good career and a position with high status are what matters.
In a culture that’s known for giving paramount importance to family, trends are changing as an increasing number of young Indians enter the workforce. “When asked about what constitutes a good life, there are many other aspects that are just as important, or even more important, than having a family and children, said Anna Kiefer, project leader for global youth and a Kairos foundation director. Living and eating well and spending time with friends receive more emphasis, she added.
With about 60 percent of its population under 30 years of age, the benefits of a strong economy — it grew 9.4 percent last fiscal year — and robust corporate growth leading to more jobs are evident among young Indians.
“I think optimistic is a better word to use than happy. Today, there are opportunities galore for young people across India. If you want a job, it’s quite likely you’ll get it,” said Aarti Wig, an investment banker in her mid-20s, who works for a global bank in Mumbai.
But, as with young investment bankers anywhere in the world, Wig wasn’t too happy about her own life. “I’m plankton in the food chain at work. I suffer from a permanent lack of sleep, lack of life, lack of love life,” she said.
Bennet Manuel, an executive at the Bangalore-based outsourcing firm, Aditi Technologies, said young Indians also had it easier than their counterparts in the Western nations because of doting parents. “Unlike in the US, our parents pay for graduation, so most of us start work with a clean chit, with no student loans to pay. It’s easier to be happy when you don’t have to worry about debt.”
Manuel, who acknowledged the standard of life in a European or North American country is much higher than in India, argued that it’s still easier to stay in India because of the amenities. “I have someone to cook and keep my house clean. Why would I want to start doing all that by myself?”