Although Monday might be a slightly odd choice for such an event: Happy
The World Happiness Report 2017 has just been released by the United Nations in the hopes of tracking which pocket of the world does well-being the best by ranking 155 countries by their happiness levels. Happiness is more than a state of mind, it’s also a statistical gold mine full of insights into public health and economic prosperity, and is a crucial consideration for the policy-making of global governments.
"The World Happiness Report continues to draw global attention around the need to create sound policy for what matters most to people – their well-being,” Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, said in a statement. “As demonstrated by many countries, this report gives evidence that happiness is a result of creating strong social foundations. It’s time to build social trust and healthy lives, not guns or walls. Let’s hold our leaders to this fact.”
Once again, Nordic and Western European countries rule the roost. Norway has jumped up a few places to become the happiest place on Earth this year, after ranking fourth place in 2016. It is followed by Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, Finland, the Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and Sweden.
As you might expect, war-torn nations and economically challenged sub-Saharan African countries scored lowest, with the bottom scoring countries being the Central African Republic, Burundi, Tanzania, Syria, Rwanda, Togo, Guinea, Liberia, South Sudan, and Yemen.
In order, the biggest improvements of happiness levels over the past year came from Nicaragua, Latvia, Sierra Leone, Ecuador, Moldova, Bulgaria, Russia, Slovakia, Chile, and Uzbekistan.
Of course, happiness is both a personal and a social thing. The research tries to account for this through studying six main variables: GDP per capita, healthy life expectancy, social support, freedom, generosity, and absence/perception of corruption.
It also delves into different case-studies, including why Africa remains terminally unhappy and why China's smiles are on the rise. Their final chapter focuses on “Restoring American Happiness”, which attempts to explain why happiness in the US is paradoxically falling despite increasing economic growth.
The researchers point towards deepening divisions and angst in American society, paired with rising social inequalities. A clear indicator of this fall is the rocketing mortality of middle-aged white men and women, accounted for mainly through drugs, alcohol-abuse, and suicide.
“America’s crisis is, in short, a social crisis, not an economic crisis,” the study notes.