South Africans (who earn more than R10k a month) are happy despite worries about crime, corruption - survey

Business Insider SA
Generally, South Africans are happy. (Image: Supplied/BrandMapp)
  • Despite their worries about crime and corruption, a band of South Africans surveyed are generally happy people.
  • They are, however, uncertain about the future of the country.
  • Among the seven top concerns, Covid-19 which upended life as we know it is the third concern.
  • For more stories, go to

Although living in a country with the widest inequality gap and one of the world's highest crime and corruption rates, some South Africans are still a happy and resilient bunch, a new BrandMapp survey has found.

The survey quizzed more than 30,000 people living in mid- to high-income households earning over R10,000 per month. 

It found that 18% of South Africans are "very happy", while 37% were just happy. Thirty-eight percent of the participants said they were just okay.

In contrast, just under 10% of South Africans said they were unhappy; only 3% being miserable, compared to 4% who said they were just unhappy.

South Africans remain a resilient lot, despite it all. (Source: BrandMapp)

Although generally a happy nation, South Africans who took part in the survey's top concerns were crime and corruption during 2021, while the nation grappled with more brutal waves of Covid-19 infections. On average, they had about seven concerns that worried them.

On the face of it, you'd think the coronavirus pandemic, which wreaked havoc across the globe, would be the top issue causing sleepless nights for many South Africans. However, South Africans surveyed are far more anxious about crime and corruption, the study found.

Crime ranked first on the list of worries for South Africans, with 60% of the respondents saying it keeps them awake at night, while 54% said they worry about corruption. Forty-five percent said the Covid-19 pandemic is a worry.

Many also said they are just as worried about government incompetence, the future of their children, and weak economic growth as much as they are about the pandemic.

Covid only ranks third among South Africans' concerns. (Source: BrandMapp)

Brandon de Kock, BrandMapp's director for storytelling, said South Africa was clearly a traumatised society, given anxieties about crime and corruption which could not be eclipsed by a virus spreading across the world and upending every aspect of life.

De Kock said South African's happiness levels showed that life before Covid in the country was already no picnic, even for the more privileged.

"So, it's going to take more than a virus and a pandemic to alter our collective mindset," he said

Only 3% of the respondents listed unemployment as a concern, which could significantly contribute to people's outlook, he said.

"So having a job or being a student or retired are other reasons to be happy with life. Lockdown restrictions and prohibition suck, but being at home, enjoying so much quality time with our loved ones has had its real pleasures. So, it's perhaps not surprising to see how happy we have been: perhaps it's further proof of our emotional resilience," he said.

When it comes to the general outlook South Africans have of the country's prospects, more people in the survey were optimistic rather than pessimistic. Although optimism levels dropped from last year, they are still slightly higher than the levels of pessimism.

Less than 40% of adults are optimistic about the South Africa. (Source: BrandMapp)

Overall optimism and pessimism levels showed an almost equal split which came at 30% and 29% respectively. However, 23% said they were optimistic compared to 17% who said they were pessimistic. On the extreme side of things, more people were 'very pessimistic' (12%) compared with those who were very optimistic (7%).  

However, a more significant number of South Africans are more uncertain about the country, with levels of uncertainty rising to 42% compared to 2020.

About 30% of the respondents said they were planning to emigrate in the next five years; De Kock said this highlights the real urgency of improving safety, governance, and prosperity in the country.

"These are issues as or more important to us than Covid, and most likely even more top of mind given the recent rioting and looting," he said.

(Compiled by Ntando Thukwana)

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