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UNSDN released 2016 World Happiness Report

Mar 17, 2016 14:14 IST

United Nations Social Development NetworkThe United Nations Social Development Network (UNSDN) on 17 March 2016 released World Happiness Report (WHR) 2016 in Rome. The fourth edition of WHR was released ahead of the UN World Happiness Day, which will be observed on 20 March 2016.

According to the report, Denmark topped the list as the happiest place in the world, while Burundi was ranked at the bottom as the least happy nation.

In the report, India was ranked 188th out of 156 countries compared to 117th out of 158 countries in the 2015 World Happiness Report. In terms of Changes in Happiness from 2005-2007 to 2013-2015, India has been ranked at 120th position out of 126 countries.

Main Highlights of the Report

• The report ranks 156 countries by their happiness levels and reflects growing global interest in using happiness and subjective well-being as primary indicators of the quality of human development.

• The report also found that countries where there was less inequality were happier overall.

• Denmark that was displaced by Switzerland in 2015 after being at top in 2012 and 2013 is followed by Switzerland, Iceland, Norway, Finland, Canada, Netherlands, New Zealand, Australia and Sweden. 

• Most of the happiest nations in the world are fairly homogeneous nations with strong social safety nets.

• Burundi ranked as the least happy country is followed by war-ravaged Syria, Togo, Afghanistan along with six other countries in sub-Saharan Africa, namely Benin, Rwanda, Guinea, Liberia, Tanzania and Madagascar.

• All the bottom ranked nations in the happiness index are poor, and have been destabilized by war, disease or both.

• For the first time, the Report gives a special role to the measurement and consequences of inequality in the distribution of well-being among countries and regions.

• The report argues that the inequality of well-being provides a broader measure of inequality.

• It finds that people are happier living in societies where there is less inequality of happiness.

• It highlights that happiness inequality has increased significantly (comparing 2012-2015 to 2005-2011) in most countries, in almost all global regions, and for the population of the world as a whole.

• When the global population is split into ten geographic regions, the resulting distributions vary greatly in both shape and average values. Only two regions—the Middle East and North Africa, and Latin America and the Caribbean— have more unequally distributed happiness than does the world as a whole.

• It calls for a movement called Action for Happiness to address both the need for and the power of collaborative action to design and deliver better lives.

• It has introduced a new index called Sustainable Development Index (SDI) to account for cross national patterns of happiness even after controlling for GDP per capita and unemployment.

Rankings of world’s most populous nations

• China - 83

• India – 118

• The United States – 13

• Indonesia – 79

• Brazil – 17

• Pakistan – 92

• Nigeria – 103

• Bangladesh – 110

• Russia – 56

• Japan - 53

• Mexico – 21

How the Happiness Index is prepared?

The first World Happiness Report was published in April 2012. The happiness ranking is based on individual responses to a global poll conducted by Gallup. The poll included a question, known as the Cantril Ladder. The question was “Please imagine a ladder, with steps numbered from 0 at the bottom to 10 at the top. The top of the ladder represents the best possible life for you and the bottom of the ladder represents the worst possible life for you. On which step of the ladder would you say you personally feel you stand at this time?”

The World Happiness Report is based on six variables and they are

• Gross domestic product per capita (the rawest measure of a nation’s wealth)

• Healthy years of life expectancy

• Social support (as measured by having someone to count on in times of trouble)

• Trust (as measured by perceived absence of corruption in government and business)

• Perceived freedom to make life choices

• Generosity (as measured by donations)

The report was prepared by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, an international panel of social scientists that includes economists, psychologists and public health experts convened by the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon.

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