Luxembourg happiness was closely linked to lockdown measures and the increase or decline in coronavirus cases, a sentiment analysis of Twitter data has shown.
Researchers from Luxembourg statistics body Statec, the University of Johannesburg and Auckland University of Technology turned to Twitter as a real-time measure of well-being, using an automated process that analyses language to calculate a Gross National Happiness index.
They found that as cases declined over the summer months, leading to a loosening of rules, the happiness of Twitter users improved. It plummeted in October when Luxembourg faced the worst outbreak of the pandemic in 2020.
By 12 November, the number of active infections was five times higher than during the peak of the first wave in April, when the country was in lockdown (10,583 compared to 2,013 cases).
By the end of October, Luxembourg had the lowest GHN score compared to six other countries hit heavily by the pandemic: Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK. Although wellbeing declined in all countries, Luxembourg experienced the greatest change.
But the researchers said it was too soon to tell what explains the different levels of wellbeing in the countries analysed. “The country-specific mix of containment policies, contagion rates, and economic performance may contribute to answering these questions,” a report published on Monday said.
The results of the Twitter analysis come after a European Commission survey saw life satisfaction by people in Luxembourg fall from 96% in spring 2019 to 86% last summer. The rate of people saying they weren’t satisfied with their lives increased from 4% to 14% over the same time period.
Luxembourg Twitter users send around 500 tweets per day with the researchers currently working on establishing a GHN score for every day of last year for the grand duchy and the six other countries being studied.
The change in happiness coincided with an increase in Google searches for topics related to fear, sadness and anger. Google mobility data on the other hand shows that people in Luxembourg largely stuck to the government’s containment measures with movement more limited depending on the restrictions in place.