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Young Europeans are Happier Than They Were Last Year

Three young women in a field looking happy

Despite inflation and the cost-of-living crisis raging across Europe, young Europeans are happier than they were last year…


  • The majority of Gen Z and Millennials in Western Europe are happier than they were last year
  • Despite the economic hardship these gens go through at the moment, they want to prioritize being happy
  • They take practical steps to improve their happiness, and being happier is their top resolution for the new year

In our recent Life Milestones & Future Plans report, YPulse surveyed European Gen Z and Millennials’ levels of happiness, and our data shows the majority of these gens say they are happy this year (54%). This is an increase compared to last year, when only 47% said they were happy. This might come as a surprise, as young Europeans are going through a lot at the moment: a war has been raging in Eastern Europe for almost a year, climate change is worsening, with record temperatures and natural disasters (flooding, wildfires, etc), in addition to a cost-of-living crisis that is making young people in the region particularly vulnerable. As a result, European 13-39-years-old have been feeling worried about what’s ahead: data from YPulse’s Mental Health Report shows that 66% of Gen Z and Millennials in Western feel anxious about the future. With so many reasons to worry about the world around them, why exactly are young Europeans happier than last year?

In order to explain this positive shift amongst the chaos, we first look at the breakdown of their answers per country, showing which young consumers in Western Europe are the happiest:

Young Europeans are happier than they were last year

The majority of young Europeans say they are happy this year, and this is especially true in the U.K., France, and Spain. But less than half of Italian (49%) and only 46% of German young consumers say they’re happy this year, the lowest number in the region. In Spain, a whopping 64% of Gen Z and Millennials say they’re happy—the highest number of all five WE countries. And considering that this was already the case last year, it confirms that Spain is a good place to live for young people. How this shift has happened is important for brands to understand, so they can cater their messaging and marketing to this demographic. Our data shows what’s behind it:

#1 Happiness and mental health is a top priority for European Gen Z and Millennials

Unlike previous gens, Gen Z and Millennials have made improving their mental health and happiness a high priority in their lives. YPulse’s research shows that almost nine in ten young consumers in Western Europe agree with the statement “It’s important to take time to focus on your happiness and mental wellbeing.” And being happy is so important to the lives of these gens that it is on top of their list of resolutions for the new year.

Because these gens want to prioritize happiness, it means that they are ready to sacrifice other areas in their life, such as work, to do so. Since the pandemic, many young Europeans decided to leave their jobs because they found the work-life balance increasingly difficult to handle—fuelling the Great Resignation. If their mental health and happiness is taking a toll because of work, these gens are not afraid to quit. Look at Ellie Downie, a Gen Z British gymnast, whom YPulse informed you recently decided to retire at 23 to prioritize her mental health and happiness.

#2 Unlike previous gens, European Gen Z and Millenials are doing life milestones their own way.

Another reason to explain why young Europeans are happier than they were last year is to look at the way they want to achieve life milestones: 80% of 13-39-year-olds in Western Europe agree with the statement “I don’t care in what order life milestones were done in generations past. I will do it my own way.” Young consumers give themselves the freedom to do traditional milestones differently (or not at all), and this freedom means they can focus more on the things that make them happy. According to data from YPulse’s Life Milestones & Future Plans report, more than three-quarters of young Europeans think they have the freedom to choose their own path (77%), whereas their parents may have felt there was only one path available.

Our data also shows that young Europeans are confident about what lies ahead in their lives: 70% of young respondents say they are optimistic about their future. These gens have their future in their own hands. And while they think the future of the world may not be bright, they think their own future is looking pretty good. And they’ve even found a way to feel good about the present: many young people don’t see a point in saving money in an unstable world—so instead, they’re spending on life experiences that make them happy right now.

#3 And these gens do practical things to improve their happiness, like traveling

Young people take practical steps to increase their happiness, and maybe the best example can be found in their attitude towards traveling. YPulse has long reported that travel is in the DNA of these gens, the “wanderlust generations.” Post-pandemic, Gen Z and Millennials are taking traveling to the next level, with many embracing the “revenge traveling” and mini-sabbaticals trends. Traveling is a tangible thing young Europeans do to be happier, and it’s no wonder it’s their second top resolution for 2023.

Governments in Western Europe have realized that life is difficult at the moment for Gen Z and Millennials, and are implementing policies to help them go out, and travel to brighten it up. Berlin recently invested 100M€ into the Jungendkulturkarte, a “culture card” for youth ages 18-23-years-old with 50 euros on it, that can be used in many cultural venues in the capital. France and Germany have also teamed up to give away more than 60,000 train tickets for free to encourage young people to travel between the two countries this summer. Countries in Europe are also competing for the “digital nomads”: Greece, Spain, Portugal, and Croatia have all introduced a new visa to allow remote workers to easily work and live in the country.