Eurovision Winners Give Their Whole Country A Happiness Boost

By Nathaniel Scharping | May 10, 2018 7:00 pm
(Credit: Review News/Shutterstock)

(Credit: Review News/Shutterstock)

This just in: Europe is stealing life satisfaction from the U.S.

No, it’s got nothing to do with immigrants or trade tariffs; it seems that the dastardly Europeans are denying us our happiness through an even more insidious channel: The power of song.

Well, I doubt it’s a coordinated effort to rob us of well-being, but a recent study in the journal BMC Public Health did find that doing well in the Eurovision Song Contest (which America, by definition, can’t participate in) was correlated with a small but significant boost in life satisfaction for European countries. Eurovision, of course, being the hugely popular annual musical competition no one in America has ever heard of until now. Think of it like American Idol, but everyone’s from a different country.

Take A Chance On Me

Every country in Europe (and Australia, because, why not) gets to send a single musical act to the big show, and they must perform an original song. European residents get to vote for any nation that’s not theirs, and they, along with a panel of expert judges from each country, determine the winner. Past winners include ABBA, Celine Dion and a bunch of people who’ve been largely forgotten over more than half a century of contests. The competition is being held in Lisbon this year, and the finals are set to air May 12.

It’s a pretty big deal, and honestly sounds like a lot of fun, but now researchers from Imperial College London say that doing well in the competition could actually hold benefits for entire nations. Using data on 160,000 people from 33 countries surveyed for the Eurobarometer study, the researchers found that people from countries that did well in the contest were more likely to say they were satisfied with their lives. And, even those countries that lost were more likely to have satisfied people than countries that didn’t take part (like America).

Increasing a country’s standing by 10 places meant that people were about four percent more likely to say they were satisfied, the researchers say. So, not a lot, but a significant finding nonetheless. Winning itself didn’t seem to affect happiness much though, it was more about overall standing.

Thank You For the Music

It’s a finding that gels with some previous research into major national events. In America, for example, the best corollary to Eurovision might be the Super Bowl, and studies have found an increase in workplace productivity in winning states, though some studies disagree. A similar study in Germany found an increase in life satisfaction during the 2016 European soccer championships — the German team placed third that year.

And it’s pretty easy to understand why this might be the case, too. Large events like this bring help to foster feelings of unity and inclusion. Furthermore, doing well should instill a sense of pride in a nation’s residents. The researchers also suggest that the contest gives Europeans something positive to talk about, and might distract from more negative things.

There’s a downside to these kinds of positive national experiences that the researchers don’t really mention though: They’re short-lived. The researchers’ data was gathered in May and June, or during and right after the Eurovision contest, but we don’t see if these increases in satisfaction lasted. As other studies have shown, spikes of happiness following a big national event vanish pretty quickly. Winning Eurovision is nice, but, as with most of the musicians who are crowned victorious, the glow only lasts for a brief time. Taken in the long run, the little boost European nations get from winning probably averages out to almost nothing.

Indeed, it is other things, like good governancehealthcare systems, GDP and education levels, that truly make a difference in determining a nation’s well-being over time. That doesn’t mean that art and culture don’t contribute to happiness as well, but transient events like Eurovision aren’t likely to make much of a difference.

Although, on a personal level, I’d be very curious to see whether having good music relates at all to life satisfaction. Maybe that’s why Sweden has such a high life expectancy.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine
  • OWilson

    In spite of, or because of, today’s incessant political drive towards borderless globalism, below the surface there still exists individual pride in ones culture.

    It manifests itself in the Olympics, international sports, and even in such contest such as the Eurovision Song Contest.

    It can be quite extreme at times, like in the World Cup, which is about to be held in Moscow, where riot police and even the military are being readied for the expected confrontations between fans from the participating countries.

    International competition is a relatively benign form of Nationalism, a substitute for the ingrained human desire to better their opponents, and, as the Romans found out, with their Bread and Circuses, even a substitute for revolution and wars.

    We have basketball, football, baseball, on a more localized level.

    • StanChaz

      Reminds me of Trump’s recent flip from “Make America Great Again” to “Make China Great Again” when all he really wants is to “Make Trump & Family Greater Again, and Again and Again…”.

      • OWilson

        Reminds me of Hillary Clinton going from “Dead broke” to amassing a Global Family Empire worth $3,000,000,000.00 (Washington Post), while “acting’ as Secretary of State with $millions of that being “donated” by those horrible Russians. :)

        • Mike Richardson

          And here we have ironic Ol’Wilson, engaging in his own off topic political trolling rant, perpetually oblivious to his own hypocrisy. 😀

          • OWilson

            I was merely responding to a comment directed at me.

            I didn’t notice anything on topic from you, Mikey, maybe I missed it?

            Just the usual “me too” uptick approval of your new trolling pal! :)

          • Mike Richardson

            … “the same old childish name calling.”
            … “Mr. Hyde…”

            Again, hypocrisy. Boundless hypocrisy. Apparently, your key to happiness is the deliberate avoidance of self awareness. I can see why that would be necessary for you.

          • OWilson

            I sometime get the feeling that you don’t like me Mikey!

            Now run along!


          • Mike Richardson

            It doesn’t take a doctor to recognize a hypocrite, just someone capable of observing that you constantly engage in the behavior for which you criticise others. However, in your own personal pursuit of happiness, it couldn’t hurt for you to consult the appropriate doctor, who might better understand the causes of your unusual behavior. Perhaps you should take your own advice, run along, and see if you can find one. :)

          • OWilson

            So, nothing on the article topic at all today?

            Have you tried the the “Psychology Today” forum?

            Go troll there with your peers!


          • Mike Richardson

            The topic was happiness — I referred to yours and ways for you to achieve it. Much more on topic than your reply and deflection. But that reaction is just more proof that I’m probably right. 😉

          • OWilson

            As usual, I’m happy to let our readers decide who’s right and who is consistently trolling! :)

          • Mike Richardson

            Yeah, that rant sounds like the declaration of a happy, well-adjusted individual all right. 😏 Might have a bit of drinking problem, too, from the sound of it. I can only imagine what you sound like after several drinks, unless of course your typical tirades like that above are you under the influence of alcohol.

            Bye the way, you’re just making it more obvious how much getting yourself banned from the other board bothers you. 😉

          • OWilson

            Drinking problem?

            You forgot “closet Fascist”, candidate for a sanitorium, mental hospital and maybe Russian colluder too, Lol!

            Bye Mikey!

            Stay safe in that Global Warming safe space, where the lying Mod only allows “Me Too” posters like you, or nut case religious flat earthers he and his tag team of trollers can easily shoot down!

            Multiple banning, and frequent warnings to skeptics may be a great way to win an argument in your own living room, but smells of insecure dogma, coming from a self professed “journalist”

            Who needs that kind one sided arena, besides you of course! :)

            Nobody of interest there anymore, the debate has moved on without him!


          • Mike Richardson

            So predictable. Once again, you’ve just helped me prove my point. Thanks. 😉

          • OWilson

            Tom said he was giving me a “time out”, for a “couple of weeks” for posting the same old stuff (truth) .

            As of this morning, a “couple” of months later,I was “BANNED” permanently.

            Using the WP, Politifact standards, he lied, of course!

            I’ll add “cowardly” too.

            He could have said what his true intentions were all along!


  • Uncle Al

    … Australia’s Got Talent!
    … Britain’s Got Talent!
    … Even the Irish have talent.

    good governance, healthcare systems, GDP and education levels, that truly make a difference” Social services arise from personal net retained earnings not public deficit spending. A man with a job and a gun does not need promises.

    • StanChaz

      On the contrary, the un-social lack of services arises from the greed and selfish short-sihtedness of retaining too much of one’s net earnings.
      Indeed , a man (or woman) with a job and a gun doesn’t need mere promises – what they need is societal protection from other men or women with jobs and a gun, most especially when those individuals lose those jobs!

      • OWilson

        The danger to society are the folks who get elected promising free “societal services of protection”, then kick their spiraling deficits down the road to poor unsuspecting generations yet unborn,

        They’ll be out of office in a couple years anyway!

        Selfish, morally reprehensible,and Unconstitutional (see Taxation without Representation)

      • nik

        ”For enlightened government allows the potential for freedom,……”

        Thats what governments want you to believe, but its far from the truth.
        Before the Romans destroyed the European tribes, they operated on a cooperative basis with no central government, and it worked well. For instance, if they needed a road built, a call went around the communities and people collected and built the road.
        The Romans collected people as slaves, and used them to build their roads. Civilised, HuH?
        When you have central government, then you have central corruption. The bigger the government, the bigger the corruption. If there is no central government, then there is no opportunity for central corruption, and the local communities keep people in order. When the controlling element of the local community is removed, THEN, you get anarchy, and the rule of the gun, both by government, and the anarchists, as you have now, in most governed societies.

  • Sam Lehman-Wilzig

    The U.S. can join if it wants to. From Europe, Australia is a lot farther away than America!
    The argument that the benefit might only be very short-term is not true in this case, because the winning country gets to HOST the contest the next year — a VERY big national ego (and tourism) boost.

  • nik

    In the UK, there’s a sort of love-hate relationship with the Eurovision contest, some cant get enough of it, some will take a holiday to get away from it.
    I’m one of the latter.
    So much of it is mediocre, and some is really tragic, like when a county’s best efforts gets; ”one point!” in 15 or more languages.
    Also, one then has to put up with endless repetition, of the winning entry, if its the UK’s, or endless autopsies, by boring, inane, DJ’s if they lose.
    I’m waiting for the day the organisers to be sued for psychological cruelty.


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