Malta ranked third most optimistic country in Europe

Index assessing expectations for the future puts Malta ahead of all European countries except Ireland and Denmark

Not a bad life all in all...
Not a bad life all in all...

Malta has been ranked Europe’s third most optimistic country according to a Social Optimism Index based on data compiled from different Eurobarometer surveys.

In an index that confirms the Maltese reputation for being generally sanguine and gregarious types, Malta is one of 12 EU countries in which over half the population considers itself to be socially optimistic.

Indeed, Malta and Portugal emerge as an exception among Mediterranean member states, which tend to be among the least optimistic.

Two countries severely impacted by the 2009 financial crisis emerged at both ends of the index: Ireland as the EU’s most socially optimistic country, and Greece as the most socially pessimistic one.

“11 years after the start of the economic crisis, the emotional climate in Greece remained profoundly pessimistic. Conversely, the economic boom experienced by Ireland in recent years has also had a clear impact on the population’s feelings, with Ireland now more optimistic than any other EU country,” the report by sociologist Eduardo Bericat, published by the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions, said.

But the top tier group of optimistic nations includes Nordic, central and eastern European, Mediterranean and Continental countries. And this ranking defies north-south and east-west divides found in other rankings.

In general Nordic countries tend to be most optimistic while eastern and central European countries are more optimistic than Mediterranean ones, and even more so than the Continental countries.

Some of the most affluent European countries, such as France, Belgium and Italy, have relatively high levels of social pessimism, which also poses “a severe problem for the future of Europe” the authors say.

The Optimism Index is a composite indicator made up of six variables based on Eurobarometer questions about personal and national expectations, about the direction, right or wrong, of the respondent’s own country and the EU, confidence about the future and the EU’s future in particular.

The highest degree of social optimism was recorded in Ireland (0.687) and Denmark (0.582) followed by Malta (0.424) and Luxembourg (0.407). Finland, Portugal, Poland, the Netherlands, Lithuania, Latvia, and Hungary share a relatively high level of social optimism, ranging from 0.366 to 0.308. The most pessimistic countries are Czechia (-0.067), Cyprus (-0.092), Italy (-0.111), Belgium (-0.135), France (-0.262) and finally Greece (-0.650).

Trust in institutions and economic growth rates and purchasing power were found to be the key country-level drivers of optimism.

The study concludes that people are more optimistic if they feel they are living in a cohesive society: they feel attachment to a community, have a sense of belonging and view positively the contribution of immigrants to the economy and society.

Social optimism and pessimism are also linked to life satisfaction or happiness, as well as with level of trust in institutions and satisfaction with democracy. Pessimism is also closely linked to discontent with established institutions. Members of the lower middle-class are most likely to be pessimistic. People who feel their voice counts tend to be more optimistic not only about their own future but also about that of the society they live in.