Israelis Are Happy, but Long for Community, Study Shows

Still, in a report by the European Social Survey, Israelis are feeling better than the average European.

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A Tel Aviv beach during the summer.
A Tel Aviv beach during the summer.Credit: Ariel Shalit
Nadan Feldman.
Nadan Feldman

Israelis routinely rank among the happiest peoples in the world, but a new poll points to emotional isolation and eroding solidarity.

The poll by the European Social Survey, which was published last week, examined satisfaction levels among 29 countries — most from Europe, though Israel was included.

It’s the sixth time the study has been conducted, this time based on data from 2012. It includes measures for feelings of well-being, community and emotional support — on scales from 1 to -1.

In the first category, Israelis scored higher than most European countries at 0.31 — coming in eighth place, though the survey was conducted when Europe was mired in a debt crisis.

Israel’s 0.31 is identical to Germany’s score and significantly beats those of most wealthy European nations including Britain, France and Italy. Denmark came in first place at 0.68, and Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, Finland, Holland and Sweden beat Israel with scores ranging from 0.4 to 0.5.

Israel, however, scored lower in the other two categories.

In the category that measures people’s sense of belonging to communities, Israel came in at 0.03 — one of the lowest positive scores and an 11th-place showing. Seventeen countries registered a negative score, further reflecting the debt crisis. France and Italy received a score of -0.05, with Poland and Bulgaria at -0.7.

Finland, which came in fourth place in the overall happiness metric, came in at a surprisingly low -0.3. In the community category, almost as low as Ukraine. But Hungary and Kosovo did surprisingly well, taking third and fifth place, respectively, after richer Scandinavian countries and Switzerland.

Israel came in at a modest 0.07 in the category measuring emotional support, putting it in 13th place. Some of the countries ahead of Israel were also affected by the financial crisis, including Cyprus and Slovenia. Germany came in third, scoring near the Scandinavian countries. Portugal, Italy and Hungry were among countries with negative scores.

Russia received dismal negative scores in all three categories, and ranked last regarding community and emotional support. Cold weather isn’t to blame — Scandinavian countries took first place in all three categories.

The study was conducted by researchers from City University London and six other academic institutions throughout Europe.

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