Happiness Index, 2022

Happiness Index, 2022

Happiness Index, 2022


Happiness, trust, and confidence at an all-time low

South Africans are less happy than before.  Although happiness levels have been declining since the first Happiness Index study in 2012, it has now reached the lowest level to date as disclosed in the June 2022 research by the Bureau of Market Research (Pty) Ltd (BMR).  A smaller number of people expressed happiness since and during the COVID-19 pandemic, and it is clear that South Africans have not yet recovered to levels reflected prior to the pandemic.  While the COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on human lives and has in fact resulted in a significant mood disruption, South Africans have also been confronted with several newsworthy political, economic, and social activities taking place that could dampen the mood.  The research also revealed the highest level of unhappiness with both the economic and political climate in 2022, with unhappiness levels increasing from 54.9 and 62.0 respectively in 2014, to 74.3 and 77.4 respectively in 2022.  Positive mood and attitude dropped from 76.4 points in 2012 to 63.7 points in 2022, whereas negative mood and attitude increased a great deal from 10.1 points to 25.2 points.  Given the sample size of the study, a difference of a few points is actually a big change.

In those we trust

Besides a number of other happiness aspects tracked over the past ten years by the BMR, this year’s results among 1 836 participants also included a measure of trust and confidence.  Trust and being able to rely on others are important considerations when evaluating one’s personal level of happiness, satisfaction with life and evaluation of well-being.  People are seemingly happier when living in a society where others are willing to aid and can be relied on to respond ethically to a situation.  However, the act of trust bears a degree of risk as it requires one to become vulnerable to another person, exposing one to possible disappointment and betrayal.  Overall trust and confidence involving 27 different South African institutions included in the research was scored 37.8 out of a possible 100 points.  It indicates that South Africans are not comfortable trusting governmental and private institutions that have a direct, or indirect, influence on happiness levels.

South Africans generally find it difficult to entrust others completely.  In fact, complete distrust became evident toward politicians, parliament, municipalities, provincial and national government.  Private healthcare providers are trusted the most when compared to the other institutions.   Government sets the tone of the national climate and a nation’s safety and security matters not only has a profound impact on its citizens, but also on tourism.  Balance and peace contribute strongly to a satisfying life.  The following graph displays 27 institutions included in the evaluation who should ideally be regarded trustworthy, by any societal criteria:


The Behavioural and Communication Research Division of the Bureau of Market Research (BMR) pioneered the construction of a Happiness Index in 2012 among graduates.  The measurement instrument is grounded in existing international models, comprising six measures of happiness antecedents.  The 2022 report presents a ten-year trend analysis for selected antecedents of happiness based on age and gender.  The online 2022 study realised a total representative sample of 1 836 South African graduates.

HAPPINESS INDEX 2022 (Research Report no 521) was compiled by Ms Jacolize Poalses (Senior Researcher) and Prof Pierre Joubert (Research Director) from the Bureau of Market Research.  The comprehensive research report presents a detailed model which is well aligned with international research insights of various happiness antecedents.


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