An International Comparison of Hope and Happiness in Japan, the UK, and the US

Using the method of back translation, comparative surveys were conducted to examine the differences and similarities in hope and happiness in Japan, the UK, and the US. We find substantial differences in levels of hope; most people in the UK and US hope to realize something in the future, whereas only half of Japanese respondents have what they see as ‘feasible’ hopes. Looking at the similarities, the issue of family is consistently the most important content of hope in all three countries. The empirical estimations also reveal that marriage, jobs, health, friends, trust, and patriotism have similar effects on hope and happiness across the three countries. Lack of friends, limited experience of feeling trusted, and lack of religious belief result in less hope in Japan. Ordeals in the past tend to reduce the degree of happiness in the present, but at the same time, such difficulties encourage people to have hopes that forward-looking actions will bring about better conditions. This counter-trend implies that the positive setback effect impacts consistently upon hope in all three of the countries studied.