Life in Europe
Last updated

Life Satisfaction in European Countries

Assessing the well-being of a population extends beyond mere economic metrics. A more nuanced understanding often emerges from individuals’ own perceptions of their quality of life.

The European Union’s Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC) provides valuable insights into this aspect by collecting data on individuals’ overall life satisfaction. Respondents across European countries, including both EU and non-EU members, are asked to rate their satisfaction with life on a scale from 0 (very dissatisfied) to 10 (very satisfied).

This data tracker delves into the latest findings from 2022, and explores variations in satisfaction through the lenses of age, education level, income quintile, sex, and degree of urbanisation.

Switzerland has the highest overall life satisfaction in 2022

With a mean country score of 8.0, Switzerland had the highest self-reported overall life satisfaction in 2022 (out of countries with available data). Rounding out the top 5 was Austria at 7.9 and Finland, Romania, and Poland all at 7.7.

At the other end, Bulgaria recorded the lowest level of life satisfaction in 2022 at 5.6, with Montenegro (5.8), Serbia (6.1), Germany (6.5) and Greece (6.7) making up the lowest five country scores.

With an average country score across all countries of 7.1, it indicates that Europeans are generally quite satisfied with life. As the available countries with data has changed over time, notably for non-EU countries, we can look at the EU27 average to gauge changes from 2013 (the first year with data) to 2022.

The average EU27 score has remained fairly stable, standing at 7.0 in 2013, increasing to 7.3 in 2018 before decreasing slightly to 7.2 in 2021 and 7.1 in 2022.

If we take a longer view and just compare 2013 to 2022, a span of nine years, Serbia is the country recording the biggest increase, +1.2 percentage points (pp.), followed by Cyprus, Hungary, Portugal and Bulgaria. Meanwhile, the largest decreases when comparing 2013 to 2022 were seen in Germany (-0.8), Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Luxembourg. It is notable that the most significant increases are observed in countries that had lower life satisfaction scores in 2013, while the countries experiencing decreases were generally among the higher-scoring countries in 2013.

From 2013 to 2022, the gap between the lowest and highest life satisfaction scores between countries has narrowed. In 2013, the range between the lowest and highest scores was 3.2 points. By 2022, this range had decreased to 2.4 points. The narrowing of the gap in life satisfaction scores from 2013 to 2022 is primarily due to improvements in the countries that had the lowest life satisfaction scores.

Life Satisfaction by Age

The data shows that young people tend to be more satisfied with life than elderly. For people aged 16-24 the average country score in 2022 was 7.6, with those aged 65 or over at 6.9.

However, in quite a few countries the elderly are more satisfied with life than the young. In Switzerland for example, people aged 65+ have a score of 8.5 (which is exceptionally high), though young people have a score of 7.7 (still very high). A similar trend can be found in Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Netherlands, and Sweden. Common for all these are that they are at a high level in general.

Among young people, Poland, Austria, Romania, Czechia, Croatia and Lithuania make up the top ranking countries in life satisfaction, all above or close to 8. The lowest ranked are Bulgaria, Montenegro, Germany, Denmark and Sweden.

Switzerland, Denmark, Austria make up the top ranking countries for people aged 65 or older. Here Bulgaria, Montenegro and Serbia make up the lowest ranking countries. Notably, the variation in the old age group is much higher than for younger people, ranging from Switzerland at 8.5 to Bulgaria at 4.9.

The top ranked countries in 2022 for young people have consistently been ranking high since 2013. Denmark, Germany and Sweden have, however, declined significantly compared to 2013 when they ranked among the highest.

Among older people aged 65 or over, Switzerland stands out as the highest ranking country since 2018. Some notable changes over time can be seen in for example Bulgaria, which has increased from 4.1 in 2013 to 4.9 (+0.8) in 2022. Serbia, Cyprus, Portugal recorded similar increases. Germany, on the other hand, has decreased from 7.4 to 6.6 (-0.8) in 2022. Notable decreases were also seen in Sweden and Denmark.

Life Satisfaction by Sex

There are very few differences between females and males in life satisfaction. This finding is consistent across all countries participating in the 2022 study.

Life Satisfaction by Education Level and Income

A closer look at life satisfaction by education level, shows a clear pattern of higher life satisfaction as education level rises. Romania has the highest satisfaction among those with tertiary education as their highest level of education, while Switzerland tops among those with secondary education as their highest level of education. Finland edges ahead of Switzerland when looking at those with lower than secondary education.

Education is strongly linked to income levels, and if we look at data for life satisfaction based on where in the income distribution people are a clear pattern emerges. The table below divides the population into five “boxes” based on their income level. The top 20 percent of the population with the highest income (fifth quintile) also have the highest life satisfaction across all countries. Simiarly, if we look at the bottom 20 percent in the income distribution (first quintile), they have the lowest life satisfaction across all countries.

Life satisfaction by household type

Five type of households are categorised in the Eurostat data – single person, two adults, three or more adults, as well as households with and without dependent children.

Households that include dependent children and two-adult households generally reporting higher levels of well-being compared to single-person households, which tend to have lower scores. At the EU27 level, the average for a single person household is 6.7, with the highest level of satisfaction for households with dependent children at 7.3 in 2022.

If we only look at single person households, life satisfaction ranges substantially across countries, form 7.6 in Austria to 4.9 in Bulgaria. One notable observation here is that in countries such as Austria, Cyprus, Germany, Ireland and Malta, life satisfaction is relatively consistent across household type regardless of whether they include dependent children, are single-person, or comprise two or more adults. This consistency could indicate that factors other than household composition play a more significant role in determining life satisfaction in these countries.

Life Satisfaction by Degree of Urbanisation

Overall, there does not appear to be a one-size-fits-all pattern regarding urbanisation and life satisfaction. In some countries, individuals in rural areas report higher life satisfaction compared to those in cities, while certain countries show that life satisfaction is higher in cities. This nuanced relationship reflects the diverse experiences and perceptions of individuals living in different types of communities across Europe.

In countries like Bulgaria, Serbia, and Romania, people in urban areas report higher life satisfaction. In Bulgaria there is a +0.8 difference in cities compared to rural areas (+0.5 for Serbia and Romania). Conversely, in nations such as Malta, Austria, and Switzerland, rural areas report higher life satisfaction, although the differences between rural and urban areas are less significant.

About the data

The data used on this page is from Eurostat. Data for overall life satisfaction by age, sex and education level is from this table, while data by income, degree of urbanisation and household type is from this table.


  • Initial release February 2024 covering Eurostat data up to 2022.

Terms of use

Link to our terms of use.