Czechs increasingly satisfied with life but also less tolerant towards minorities

Illustrative photo: Piryelgamer, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0

Czechs are said to be a grumpy lot, but in reality they are increasingly satisfied with life. According to a survey carried out by the faculty of Social Studies of Masaryk University in Brno, Czechs are happier than they’ve been since 1991. At the same time, people are more distrustful of one another and less tolerant towards minorities, especially migrants, foreign workers and Roma. They also show less trust in education, religion and the EU.

Illustrative photo: Piryelgamer,  Wikimedia Commons,  CC BY-SA 4.0
The research, carried out by experts at Brno’s Masaryk University, is part of the European Values Study, a large-scale survey providing insight into the beliefs, values and attitudes of Europeans. It suggests that the Czech population is experiencing the highest level of happiness since 1991. Over the past 25 years, the number of people who describe themselves as very happy grew from seven to 18 percent, while the number of unhappy people dropped from 21 to 11 percent.

Beatrice Chromková Manea, who was part of the research team, outlines the factors behind this development:

“I think that this is due to the changes that have been taking place since 1989: the increasing number of opportunities people have, the opportunities on the labour market and the possibility to travel abroad. I think all this makes Czechs happier.

Beatrice Chromková Manea,  photo: Archive of Masaryk University in Brno
“There are also economic reasons that influence the level of satisfaction in life. When we are not unemployed and we are healthy, we are more satisfied with our lives. So there are various factors that might influence the level of satisfaction in our life.”

The study suggests that young Moravians are the happiest people in the Czech Republic. According to experts, this could be connected with increasing number of educational and work opportunities in Moravia as well as with a slower pace of life in the region.

While Czechs seem happier than ever before, the Czech society has also grown more intolerant towards minorities as well as towards each other. Beatrice Chromková Manea says this reflects the extensive social changes that have been taking place not only in the Czech Republic, but also elsewhere in Europe over the past 25 years.

Illustrative photo: Tom Albinson,  CC BY-ND 2.0
“What we can observe is a rise in intolerance between 2008 and 2017 towards specific groups of people, such as immigrants or foreign workers, Muslims and people of different races. For other groups of people, such as homosexuals, we observe a decrease in the level of intolerance.

“We think the rise of intolerance is related to two aspects. First of all, the rise of terrorism and the migrant crisis during the past four or five years but also the 2008 financial crisis which led to an increase in work migration."

The study suggests that Czechs are not only less and less tolerant towards specific groups of people but also toward each other. Only 23 percent of respondents said people can be trusted, which is much lower than in Western democracies, where the level of interpersonal trust is around 40 percent.

On the other hand, Czechs are increasingly tolerant towards different forms of family life and have no problem accepting women who have children without entering into marriage. They also consider leisure time more important than they used to and increasingly value other aspects of their jobs, such as flexible working hours and generous vacations.