Survey says 90 per cent of Malaysians are happy

KUALA LUMPUR - A recent survey to understand happiness levels showed 90 per cent of Malaysians indicated they were happy, the highest in the region. However, women were marginally less happy than men.

The top three factors that contributed to the happiness level of those polled were their relationship with their partner or spouse (53 per cent), their relationship with their parents (46 per cent), and the health of their family and friends (41 per cent).

The factors that contributed the least to their overall happiness were donating money to charity at six per cent, social recognition (five per cent) and migrating to another country (one per cent).

Six months ago, Ipsos Asia Pacific, via an online survey, polled a total of 2,378 respondents from Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, South Korea and China, aged between 18 and 50. Locally, some 500 respondents across all major ethnic groups were surveyed.

Ipsos Malaysia executive director Katharine Davis said survey results proved Malaysians closely connected personal happiness to the bond they had with their loved ones and the wellbeing of those closest to them.

"This is a reflection of the strong communal culture of Malaysians and their national identity, where the sense of self takes lesser precedence to the good of the community they belong to."

In contrast, people saying they are unhappy is attributed to their lack of happiness in their personal financial situation (61 per cent), followed by the health of their family and friends (40 per cent), and living conditions (38 per cent).

Besides Malaysian women being less happy (11 per cent) than men (eight per cent), other differences were women placing a higher emphasis on their relationship with their parents (50 per cent) than men do (38 per cent), and them being more concerned about the health and wellbeing of their family and friends.

This is likely a result of them placing their career on hiatus when it comes to raising a family, de-prioritising external contributors to their happiness.

However, having more friends and developing relationships with their friends are more important to men than women.

Generally, happiness levels were high in Hong Kong, China and Singapore, stating that their personal health and their relationship with their spouse were the top two contributing factors.

Results from Korean respondents showed a similarity with Malaysians with their top happiness factor being their relationship with their partner or spouse (44 per cent), but was the only country where living conditions was one of the main contributors to their happiness (35 per cent).