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Szombathely is the happiest city in Hungary, followed by Nyíregyháza, according to research conducted by Eötvös Loránd University, Faculty of Pedagogy and Psychology (ELTE PPK) Positive Psychology Research Group. 

The research group, under the leadership of Attila Oláh, collaborated with Bella Bagdi’s “Jobb Veled a Világ” (The World is Better with You) Foundation, in order to make the so-called Happiness Map. Together, they conducted an internet survey between April 1, 2020 and March 15, 2021, according to which Szombathely dominantly turned out to be the happiest city in Hungary.

“One of the special features of this period – affecting all of society – was the emergence of COVID-19 in several waves. This Happiness Map can therefore be considered the Happiness Map of Hungary living under the threat of COVID,” according to the report.

According to the overall results, the level of happiness of the Hungarian population decreased minimally compared to the values ​​measured in 2019, but it develops differently by region and county. Happiness levels decreased significantly in Southern Transdanubia, the Northern Great Plain, and Northern Hungary, while it increased in Western Transdanubia and Central Hungary. At the county level, the level of happiness decreased in Hajdú-Bihar, Békés, and Somogy counties, while it increased in Bács-Kiskun, Jász-Nagykun-Szolnok, and Vas counties.

Among cities, Szombathely emerged as the happiest city in Hungary, followed by Nyíregyháza. Happiness decreased significantly in Debrecen, Győr, and Tatabánya; however, it increased dramatically in Budapest. In addition, within the capital, the so-called global prosperity level is significantly higher in Buda than that of the population of the Pest side. In 2020 Székesfehérvár was considered to be the happiest city, while Kaposvár the most unhappy. Two years ago, Tatabánya won the top place on the happiness list.

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It was also reported that the level of well-being of women is altogether higher, and the level of happiness of men and women aged 36-50 increased according to age. However, of those over 65 and 18-25 years unfortunately decreased. Singles and couples in relationships are less happy, while married people are happier than before. In families with children, perceptions of physical condition deteriorated, while the proportion of positive experiences increased in those raising three or more children.

The research also revealed that in the current survey, general levels of well-being are greater and widely dispersed. This may be because almost a third of the Hungarian population successfully coped with the difficulties caused by the epidemic situation. At the same time, a third of the population also registered responses indicating a significant decrease in happiness levels. About 35 percent of those who completed the survey reported maintaining and increasing global levels of happiness. However, 35 percent of the respondents also indicated a deterioration in levels of their mental state, and emotional, social, psychological and spiritual well-being.

In the featured photo: Szombathely. Photo by György Varga/MTI