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PISA study: Finnish youth – especially boys – content with life

Just six percent of students surveyed in Finland said they were dissatisfied with their lives, compared to an overall average of 12 percent. Only youngsters in the Netherlands reported a lower dissatisfaction level, at three percent.

Viitaniemen 9C –luokan oppilaat Jyväskylässä ovat tyytyväisiä elämäänsä.
Jyväskylä ninth graders Jonni Vuorinen, Pinja Puranen, Aino Vierola and Oskari Laasonen say they're generally content with life. Image: Jaana Polamo / Yle

A new study by the OECD suggests that most Finnish youth – especially boys – are extremely satisfied with their lives.

The first-ever Students’ Well-Being report looks at factors affecting the well-being of 15-year-olds and how they correlate to youngsters' scores on the international PISA tests.

45% very satisfied, 6% dissatisfied

Just six percent of students surveyed in Finland said they were dissatisfied with their lives, compared to an overall average of 12 percent. Only youngsters in the Netherlands reported a lower dissatisfaction level, at three percent.

The report was released on Wednesday by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which includes 35 industrialised countries. The assessment of student well-being is based on data from 2015, tied in to the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) tests. These focus on science, mathematics and reading. Nearly 6,000 teenagers from Finland took part in the research.

Forty-five percent of these reported high levels of life satisfaction, well above the OECD average of 34 percent. Correspondingly, just six percent of students surveyed in Finland said they were dissatisfied with their life, compared to the overall of 12 percent. Only youngsters in the Netherlands reported a lower dissatisfaction level, at three percent.

Not surprisingly, the study shows that poor test results are linked to test anxiety, unfair treatment and poor motivation.

Latin American countries top list

On a scale of zero to 10, Finnish youngsters' life satisfaction averaged at 7.89, among the top five of the 49 countries and regions. The most satisfied pupils were in the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Costa Rica and Croatia.

According to the study, Finnish boys were more likely to say they were happy with their lives than girls. Just over half of male students described themselves as highly satisfied, compared with 36 percent of their female counterparts. There were similar results in all countries except Japan, but the gap was significantly wider than usual in Finland.

However Finnish boys were more likely than girls to feel that had been treated unfairly by a teacher within the past month – and those who made such comments tended to do more poorly on PISA tests.

The PISA 2015 research was carried out in this country by the Finnish Institute for Educational Research in partnership with the Ministry of Education and Culture and Helsinki University's Centre for Educational Assessment.

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