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This is an IELTS writing task 2 sample answer essay on the topic of developed countries and happiness from the real IELTS exam.

A really tough topic – don’t try to come up with the most amazing ideas ever for it. Focus on a good, reasonable idea fully developed because the topic is so broad and difficult!

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Dave

IELTS Essay: Developed Countries & Happiness

In recent times, economic growth has helped many become richer, both in developed and developing countries. However, those in developed countries are not as happy as they were in the past.

Why is this?

What can be learned from this?

As global wealth increases, there has been a surprising decrease in reported levels of happiness in developed nations. In my opinion, this is due to lifestyle changes and it teaches that money is merely a baseline requirement for happiness.

The main reason individuals in wealthy nations are less happy today relates to how people live. In the past, people had fewer free time options and this led to more time being outside and socializing. Modern lifestyles are predicated around isolation. For example, the average worker or student after a long day is likely to spend at least a few hours watching movies on Netflix, messaging friends, checking social media, and listening to music. These 21st century habits would seemingly elevate happiness levels but they are in fact a passive means of achieving low levels of contentment and pleasure. In the aggregate, this minimum threshold of commitment pales in comparison to more substantial activities.

The lesson from this development is that wealth is only the foundation of happiness. Many would claim that money has no relationship to happiness, however, this is naive since families living in poverty must obsess over simple matters such as shelter and sustenance. Money only serves to guarantee basic necessities and happiness is an active byproduct of action. This can be seen most clearly in nations that score high on happiness surveys such as in Northern Europe and Japan. Individuals in these countries tend to have more focused lives and feel they are part of a community and culture that requires active engagement. These societies prioritise involvement with others and community responsibility and shun the insular hobbies that have led to dissatisfaction in other developed nations.

In conclusion, lower levels of happiness are due to modern ways of living and this illustrates the relative importance of wealth. Happiness itself should not be an aim but rather a result of pursuing worthier life goals.

Analysis

1. As global wealth increases, there has been a surprising decrease in reported levels of happiness in developed nations. 2. In my opinion, this is due to lifestyle changes and it teaches that money is merely a baseline requirement for happiness.

  1. Paraphrase the overall essay topic.
  2. Write a clear opinion. Read more about introductions here.

1. The main reason individuals in wealthy nations are less happy today relates to how people live. 2. In the past, people had fewer free time options and this led to more time being outside and socializing. 3. Modern lifestyles are predicated around isolation. 4. For example, the average worker or student after a long day is likely to spend at least a few hours watching movies on Netflix, messaging friends, checking social media, and listening to music. 5. These 21st century habits would seemingly elevate happiness levels but they are in fact a passive means of achieving low levels of contentment and pleasure. 6. In the aggregate, this minimum threshold of commitment pales in comparison to more substantial activities.

  1. Write a topic sentence with a clear main idea at the end.
  2. Explain your main idea.
  3. Develop it with specific examples.
  4. Keep developing it fully.
  5. Stay focused on the same main idea.
  6. Finish by adding extra detail.

1. The lesson from this development is that wealth is only the foundation of happiness. 2. Many would claim that money has no relationship to happiness, however, this is naive since families living in poverty must obsess over simple matters such as shelter and sustenance. 3. Money only serves to guarantee basic necessities and happiness is an active byproduct of action. 4. This can be seen most clearly in nations that score high on happiness surveys such as in Northern Europe and Japan. 5. Individuals in these countries tend to have more focused lives and feel they are part of a community and culture that requires active engagement. 6. These societies prioritise involvement with others and community responsibility and shun the insular hobbies that have led to dissatisfaction in other developed nations.

  1. Write a new topic sentence with a new main idea at the end.
  2. Explain your new main idea.
  3. Include specific details and examples.
  4. Continue developing it…
  5. as fully as possible!
  6. Conclude by relating it back to the overall topic.

1. In conclusion, lower levels of happiness are due to modern ways of living and this illustrates the relative importance of wealth. 2. Happiness itself should not be an aim but rather a result of pursuing worthier life goals.

  1. Summarise your main ideas.
  2. Include a final thought. Read more about conclusions here.

Vocabulary

What do the words in bold below mean? Make some notes on paper to aid memory and then check below.

As global wealth increases, there has been a surprising decrease in reported levels of happiness in developed nations. In my opinion, this is due to lifestyle changes and it teaches that money is merely a baseline requirement for happiness.

The main reason individuals in wealthy nations are less happy today relates to how people live. In the past, people had fewer free time options and this led to more time being outside and socializing. Modern lifestyles are predicated around isolation. For example, the average worker or student after a long day is likely to spend at least a few hours watching movies on Netflix, messaging friends, checking social media, and listening to music. These 21st century habits would seemingly elevate happiness levels but they are in fact a passive means of achieving low levels of contentment and pleasure. In the aggregate, this minimum threshold of commitment pales in comparison to more substantial activities.

The lesson from this development is that wealth is only the foundation of happiness. Many would claim that money has no relationship to happiness, however, this is naive since families living in poverty must obsess over simple matters such as shelter and sustenance. Money only serves to guarantee basic necessities and happiness is an active byproduct of action. This can be seen most clearly in nations that score high on happiness surveys such as in Northern Europe and Japan. Individuals in these countries tend to have more focused lives and feel they are part of a community and culture that requires active engagement. These societies prioritise involvement with others and community responsibility and shun the insular hobbies that have led to dissatisfaction in other developed nations.

In conclusion, lower levels of happiness are due to modern ways of living and this illustrates the relative importance of wealth. Happiness itself should not be an aim but rather a result of pursuing worthier life goals.

Answers

For extra practice, write an antonym (opposite word) on a piece of paper to help you remember the new vocabulary:

global wealth amount of money in the world

surprising decrease shocking fall

reported levels the amount people say

developed nations rich countries

lifestyle changes different ways of living

merely only

baseline requirement minimum needed

relates to has to do with

fewer free time options not as many choices for hobbies

socializing talking to people

predicated based on

isolation being alone

average worker normal employee

long day whole day at work/school

at least at the minimum

checking social media looking at Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, etc.

21st century habits new pastimes in the 2000s

seemingly elevate ostensibly make better

in fact actually

passive means not an active way

achieving accomplishing

contentment satisfaction

pleasure happiness

in the aggregate all combined

minimum threshold the least required

commitment duty

pales in comparison is weaker than

substantial meaningful

foundation basis

claim argue

naive innocent, unrealistic

poverty poor

obsess fixate on

simple matters ordinary issues

shelter home

sustenance food

serves to works to

guarantee ensure

basic necessities minimum to live

active byproduct result of

This can be seen most clearly in a good example of this is

score high get good marks

surveys reports

Northern Europe Finland, Denmark, Sweden, etc.

focused lives purposeful lives

community neighborhood

culture traditions and people around you

requires active engagement needs actual input

prioritise consider more important

involvement with others interpersonal relationships

community responsibility duty to those around you

shun ignore

insular hobbies isolated pastimes

dissatisfaction not feeling content, satisfied

relative importance of wealth how important money is compared to other factors

aim goal

pursuing worthier life goals going after more important aims in life

Pronunciation

Practice saying the vocabulary below and use this tip about Google voice search:

ˈgləʊbəl wɛlθ
səˈpraɪzɪŋ ˈdiːkriːs 
rɪˈpɔːtɪd ˈlɛvlz 
dɪˈvɛləpt ˈneɪʃənz
ˈlaɪfˌstaɪl ˈʧeɪnʤɪz 
ˈmɪəli 
ˈbeɪslaɪn rɪˈkwaɪəmənt 
rɪˈleɪts tuː 
ˈfjuːə friː taɪm ˈɒpʃənz 
ˈsəʊʃəlaɪzɪŋ
ˈprɛdɪkeɪtɪd 
ˌaɪsəʊˈleɪʃən
ˈævərɪʤ ˈwɜːkə 
lɒŋ deɪ 
æt liːst 
ˈʧɛkɪŋ ˈsəʊʃəl ˈmiːdiə
ˈtwɛnti fɜːst ˈsɛnʧʊri ˈhæbɪts 
ˈsiːmɪŋli ˈɛlɪveɪt 
ɪn fækt 
ˈpæsɪv miːnz 
əˈʧiːvɪŋ 
kənˈtɛntmənt 
ˈplɛʒə
ɪn ði ˈægrɪgɪt 
ˈmɪnɪməm ˈθrɛʃˌhəʊld 
kəˈmɪtmənt 
peɪlz ɪn kəmˈpærɪsn 
səbˈstænʃəl 
faʊnˈdeɪʃən 
kleɪm 
nɑːˈiːv 
ˈpɒvəti 
əbˈsɛs 
ˈsɪmpl ˈmætəz 
ˈʃɛltə 
ˈsʌstɪnəns
sɜːvz tuː 
ˌgærənˈtiː 
ˈbeɪsɪk nɪˈsɛsɪtiz 
ˈæktɪv ˈbaɪˌprɒdʌkt 
ðɪs kæn biː siːn məʊst ˈklɪəli ɪn 
skɔː haɪ 
ˈsɜːveɪz 
ˈnɔːðən ˈjʊərəp 
ˈfəʊkəst lɪvz 
kəˈmjuːnɪti 
ˈkʌlʧə 
rɪˈkwaɪəz ˈæktɪv ɪnˈgeɪʤmənt
praɪˈɒrɪˌtaɪz 
ɪnˈvɒlvmənt wɪð ˈʌðəz 
kəˈmjuːnɪti rɪsˌpɒnsəˈbɪlɪti 
ʃʌn 
ˈɪnsjʊlə ˈhɒbiz 
dɪsˌsætɪsˈfækʃən 
ˈrɛlətɪv ɪmˈpɔːtəns ɒv wɛlθ
eɪm 
pəˈsjuːɪŋ ˈwɜːðɪə laɪf gəʊlz

Vocabulary Practice

I recommend getting a pencil and piece of paper because that aids memory. Then write down the missing vocabulary from my sample answer in your notebook:

As g_______________h increases, there has been a s__________________e in r________________s of happiness in d________________s. In my opinion, this is due to l________________s and it teaches that money is m______y a b________________________t for happiness.

The main reason individuals in wealthy nations are less happy today r____________o how people live. In the past, people had f_________________________s and this led to more time being outside and s________________g. Modern lifestyles are p_____________d around i__________n. For example, the a_________________r or student after a l_____________y is likely to spend a________t a few hours watching movies on Netflix, messaging friends, c___________________a, and listening to music. These 2_________________s would s________________e happiness levels but they are i_______t a p_____________s of a_______________g low levels of c________________t and p___________e. I____________________e, this m_____________________d of c______________t p________________n to more s______________l activities.

The lesson from this development is that wealth is only the f___________n of happiness. Many would c______m that money has no relationship to happiness, however, this is n______e since families living in p________y must o________s over s_________________s such as s_________r and s_____________e. Money only s____________o g____________e b__________________s and happiness is an a__________________t of action. T________________________n nations that s_________h on happiness s________s such as in N_____________________e and Japan. Individuals in these countries tend to have more focused lives and feel they are part of a c______________y and c_________e that r______________________________t. These societies p____________________________s and c_________________________y and s_____n the i____________________s that have led to d_________________n in other developed nations.

In conclusion, lower levels of happiness are due to modern ways of living and this illustrates the r_________________________h. Happiness itself should not be an a____m but rather a result of p___________________________s.

Listening Practice

Learn more about this topic in the video below and practice with these activities:

Reading Practice

Read more about this topic and use these ideas to practice:

https://www.vox.com/first-person/2016/10/4/13093380/happiness-america-ruth-whippman

Speaking Practice

Practice with the following speaking questions from the real IELTS speaking exam:

Age

  1. Do you like your current age?
  2. What was the biggest decision you made in your life?
  3. At what age are people happiest?

Writing Practice

Practice with the same basic topic below and then check with my sample answer:

Some people believe that it is best to accept a bad situation, such as an unsatisfactory job or shortage of money. Others argue that it is better to try and improve such situations.

Discuss both these views and give your own opinion.


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