The happiness and quality of life of young people in Norway declined between 2009 and 2019, new research has shown.
Over ten years, the happiness of 15-24 year olds and 25-39 year olds declined 11 percent and 14 percent, respectively. This switched their place in the standings from the happiest age groups to the least satisfied.
The findings came as a surprise to researchers as younger people had traditionally been the happiest in society.
“The decline in happiness levels for people between the ages of 15 and 39 is particularly surprising because young people have traditionally used to score higher than older people on feelings of happiness,” one of the researchers, Ottar Hellevik, from the University, told public broadcaster NRK.
“It is clear that something is happening to young people, which there is every reason to take seriously,” he added.
The research from Ottar Hellevik, a professor at the University of Oslo and Tale Hellevik of Oslo Metropolitan University analysed data from quality of life surveys dating back to 1985.
The research pointed to several factors for the decline in happiness, such as concerns around young people’s career opportunities, their financial situation and worries surrounding life-changing events such as climate change.
“I am worried about the future. We hear about climate change every day,” Hedda Hugdahl Skjold, a student in Trondheim, told NRK.
Another worry for young people was getting onto the property ladder.
“I am worried about getting on the property ladder. My god, it is a crisis. At least in Norway,” Sigrid Jøras Larsen, also a student, told the public broadcaster.
“These are completely outrageous prices. I do not have a job and haven’t started saving yet. It makes me quite stressed,” she added.
The pressures of social media were another factor negatively impacting young people’s happiness.
“I think you are being watched on all fronts. You are expected to excel in many areas—both socially and at school. You become more visible through social media,” Larsen said.
Hellvik said that the trend of young people becoming unhappier could be reversed, and it wasn’t a given that they would remain less satisfied with life as they grow older.
“This can be repaired with the right measures. Among other things, this points to the importance of being able to provide start-up loans and mortgages and better young peoples opportunities to enter the housing market,” the professor explained.