This is according to the latest Ipsos Global Trends survey.

According to the survey, South Africa is the fourth-happiest nation out of the 20 that they surveyed. Swedes (88%), Canadians (86%) and Australians (85%) are in the top three, while 83% of South Africans say they are happy.

The 2014 Global Trends Survey, conducted by UK market research group Ipsos Mori, was completed by 16 000 people in Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Poland, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, the UK and the US.

How we feel about our own health

Currently, Belgium and Britain have the highest public satisfaction with healthcare.

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Currently, Belgium and Britain have the highest public satisfaction with healthcare.

Overall, over half of the worldâ??s population (59%) globally rate their health as â??goodâ?? with the highest ratings in South Africa (79%) and the US (76%) and the lowest ratings in Russia (36%) and South Korea (30%).

Adaptable, but want a slower, simpler life â?? at least in theory

Itâ??s not that people hate change; six in ten across the 20 countries say they often change their plans to take account of new conditions. This proportion is even higher among younger people and especially those in emerging economies.

Overall, a third say they are usually the first among their friends to try out new things, rising to more than half in India, Turkey, China and South Africa (partly reflecting the younger nature of our sample in these countries as well as their online status).

They do, however dream of a simpler, slower life.

Inequality in education decreases, while economic inequality increases

Studies show that while inequality in education and health are declining, income inequality is doing the opposite.

Studies show that while inequality in education and health are declining, income inequality is doing the opposite.

Furthermore, the stakes are high – in emerging markets like Brazil, China, India and South Africa, for example, strong economic growth, supported by labour and social policies, have helped to reduce extreme poverty but, in these four countries alone, it still blights the lives of a combined 630 million people.

Just under half of the public across the 20 countries feel dissatisfied with life because they cannot afford much financially.

‘Things’ donâ??t equal happiness

While the three happiest nations – Sweden, Canada, Australia – are also the least likely to be dissatisfied with life because of what they can afford, this seems to have a relatively weak relationship with happiness, as has been well rehearsed in the â??wellbeingâ?? literature for decades.

For example, 66% of those who are â??dissatisfied with life because of what I can affordâ??, are still able to say they are personally happy.

66% of those who are â??dissatisfied with life because of what I can affordâ??, are still able to say they are personally happy

The vocal minority

A quarter of consumers globally say they have shared their views about a company or brand via social media in the last year, with considerable variation between countries (47% in South Africa, 4% in Japan).

This minority has a very different profile from that of the â??averageâ?? global citizen, as they tend to be more engaged in socio-political activities, for example, volunteering with charities/campaigning organisations, presenting their views to a politician, taking part in demonstrations/marches, or donating money to charities/ campaigning organisations.

This vocal minority now holds increasing sway over a wide audience of consumers

Moreover, consumers are acting on these views: a significant minority say they have actually avoided a company or brand in the last year because they heard or read about a bad experience, or have chosen one on hearing about a good experience.

People in South Africa and Turkey are most likely to do both of these, with Swedes also more likely to act based on bad experiences.