The Eurovision Song Contest may divide opinion but it could help boost a country’s happiness, research suggests.
A new study by scientists at Imperial College London found entry into the annual spectacular was linked with an increase in life satisfaction.
While people from countries finishing higher up on the leaderboard were more likely to be satisfied, taking part in the competition and doing badly was found to be better than not getting involved at all.
The findings may offer some comfort to the UK which has suffered “consistently terrible performances” in the contest, the researchers said.
Even an abysmal performance would be better than complete absence from the contestAuthors of study
The study, published in journal BMC Public Health, analysed survey data from 160,000 people in 33 European countries, collected around the time of the competition between 2009 and 2015.
People were 4% more likely to be satisfied with life for every 10 places higher they finished on the scoreboard, the study found.
However, winning was not associated with an additional increase in life satisfaction, suggesting it really is the taking part that counts.
“The good news for any country entering the Eurovision Song Contest is that it is not necessary to win to achieve improvements in the population’s life satisfaction,” the authors said.
Countries which finished near the bottom of the results table still had a 13% higher chance of life satisfaction compared to those which did not enter, the study also found.
“There is no public health risk in taking part, as even an abysmal performance would be better than complete absence from the contest,” the authors said.
“This may be particularly important for the United Kingdom, where a ‘Eurovision Brexit’ is gaining support in response to the country’s consistently terrible performances.”
Lead author Dr Filippos Filippidis, from the school of public health, said the research emerged “from a jokey conversation” in the office.
He said: “Our department employs people from lots of different countries and around the time of the Eurovision Song Contest we were chatting about whether the competition could also affect a country’s national wellbeing.
“We looked into it and were surprised to see there may be a link.”
Dr Filippidis said while the study only shows a link between the contest and life satisfaction, it fits with previous research showing national events can boost mood and productivity.
However, he revealed he was not the biggest fan of Eurovision.
“I’ve been known to occasionally watch it in previous years,” he said.
“It’s certainly entertaining, but I don’t take it too seriously.”
The 63rd Eurovision Song Contest will take place in Lisbon on Saturday, with the UK represented by singer SuRie.