Korean Children Unhappiest in OECD Despite Material Wealth

Korean children and adolescents are the least satisfied with their lives in the OECD, despite increasing material comfort. Korea ranked fourth among OECD member countries in terms of youngsters' material happiness but last in terms of subjective happiness, according to research published Friday by the Social Development Institute at Yonsei University with the support of the Korea Pang Jong-hwan Foundation.

This is fourth consecutive year Korea ranked bottom in the institute's annual happiness index.

The material happiness index rankings of Austria and Spain are more or less on a par with their subjective happiness index rankings, but among Korean youngsters the gap is vast.

"Many Korean children and adolescents know that they live more abundant lives than their peers in any other country," said Yum Yu-sik, a professor of sociology at Yonsei University. "But they have a low level of subjective happiness because they witness or suffer bullying at school, where they have to spend most of their time, and many contemplate running away from home or even committing suicide."

For the material happiness index, the wealth of a respondent's home is measured based on their answers to questions such as whether adult family members have jobs, whether the home has more than 10 books, and whether they have their own desk or a quiet place to study. The subjective happiness index is based on answers to questions such as whether respondents like school and are satisfied with their life.

The study compared a recent survey of 6,791 schoolchildren from fourth grade to 12th across the country, except for Jeju, with similar surveys carried out by the WHO and the OECD in 2006 and 2003. The material happiness index covers 18 OECD member states and the subjective happiness index 23.

englishnews@chosun.com / May 07, 2012 09:41 KST