Europe’s other north-south divide: Where city dwellers are happier than rural residents

Happiness – More or less…


The hard-working, windswept, Protestant north and the leisure-seeking, sun-dappled, Catholic south. These long-lived stereotypes of the people in northern and southern Europe have been reinforced by the continent’s recent financial crisis: the stronger creditor countries in the north were charged with bailing out their debt-laden counterparts in the south. (There are exceptions, of course, but stay with us here.)

Europe’s diverging economic fortunes are also reflected in how happy its people are. A survey conducted by Eurostat found that, in most cases, residents of northern and central Europe report a higher “overall life satisfaction” than those in the south and east. On a scale of 0 to 10, the likes of Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, and others rate their happiness as an 8, while places like Bulgaria (4.8), Portugal and Greece (both 6.2) are gloomier.

And within countries, there’s another interesting split: urbanites versus country folk. It seems people in the north are generally happier living in rural areas, while those in…

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