Most 8-Year-Olds Are Happy With Their Lives, Study Finds

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It’s still a good time to be 8 years old. According to a recent poll of 17,496 children in 16 countries around the world, most 8-year-olds are happy with their lives as a whole. The study was conducted by England’s Social Policy Research Unit (SPRU) as part of their larger “Children’s World Survey.”

According to the study, which was conducted from 2013 to 2015 and published recently on the Children’s World website [PDF], 8-year-olds aren’t just happy—they are also more likely to enjoy going to school than children in older age groups. While a full 62 percent of 8-year-olds said they enjoy school, only 52 percent of 10-year-olds and 42 percent of 12-year-olds said the same. In general, it seems that most 8-year-olds have a positive view of school, and report feeling safe at home and in their neighborhood.

But the insights weren't all positive. Many of the children reported concerns about bullying, and over a third of the kids polled said they “often” or “always” worry about money.

The poll’s results also varied significantly from country to country. For instance, children in Nepal reported having better relationships with classmates and neighbors than with the people they lived with, while children in South Korea were happy with the people they lived with but reported having lower satisfaction with friends.

Additionally, while the majority of children reported satisfaction with life, a full 6 percent reported low well-being, which is a significant number considering how many children were polled. According to the study, “Looking at the percentage of children with low well-being creates a slightly different picture, with Ethiopia, South Korea and the UK being at the bottom of the rankings and Colombia, Romania and Spain at the top."

Researchers believe the study will help them better advocate for children’s rights by pinpointing the specific problems faced by children around the world. “For the first time ever we are able to hear from almost 20,000 eight-year-old children from 16 countries what they do, feel, and want,” researcher Asher Ben-Arieh said. “This remarkable achievement teaches us first and foremost that children know better than anyone else about their lives and that any effort to improve it needs to be inclusive of their voice.”