How is Happiness Measured in the World, and which are the Happiest Countries?

The new World Happiness Report presents the list of the happiest countries in the world and the critical factors for the population to have greater well-being and satisfaction with life.

Helsinki, Finland and happy people

Photo: Pixabay, Freepik

LatinAmerican Post | María Fernanda Ramírez Ramos

Escucha este artículo

Leer en español: ¿Cómo se mide la felicidad en el mundo y cuáles son los países más felices?

The World Happiness Report, or World Happiness Report in Spanish, is an annual report based on the World Happiness Index and evaluates the happiness and well-being of people worldwide. The information is produced by independent economics, psychology, health, and public policy experts and published by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network. This report shows the list of the happiest countries and analyzes the determining factors to achieve happiness or satisfaction with life people.

The World Happiness Report includes detailed information on happiness trends in different countries, regions, and demographics. It analyzes the causes and factors influencing people's happiness, such as income level, quality of life, health, education, gender equality, personal freedom, corruption, and social support.

The report also offers recommendations for policymakers and business leaders on improving the happiness and well-being of people worldwide. It has become an essential source of information for those interested in sustainable development, human development, social welfare, public policy formulation, and positive psychology.

How is happiness measured in the world?

When we think about happiness, it is a very subjective matter. It has been a recurring question since ancient times: humans have always tried to define happiness and find ways to achieve it. Although there may not be a consensus on its definition, factors have been identified that allow people to have a life with dignity and well-being, which affects their perception of happiness.

More and more ways of measuring people's well-being and happiness are being developed, which, among other things, assess satisfaction with life. The World Happiness Report celebrates a decade of studying happiness in the world. To measure it, it relies on six key factors, which they have identified as helping to explain the variation in self-reported happiness levels worldwide. These factors are social support, health, income, freedom, generosity, and the absence of corruption in the environment, associated with a context that offers guarantees and good management.

"The happiness movement shows that well-being is not a 'soft' and 'vague' idea but focuses on critically important areas of life: material conditions, mental and physical wealth, personal virtues, and good citizenship. We need to turn this wisdom into practical results to achieve more peace, prosperity, trust, civility and, yes, happiness, in our societies," noted economist Jeffrey Sachs, author of the report, in a press release.

Thus, the Gallup World Survey asks the population about their perception of different areas, emotions, and behavior. This year, emphasis was also placed on studying war or conflict zones such as Ukraine or Lebanon. Likewise, it analyzed how resilience has developed after the COVID-19 pandemic. "For the second year, we see various forms of everyday kindness, like helping a stranger, donating to charity, and volunteering, above pre-pandemic levels. Acts of kindness have been shown to lead to and result in greater happiness," said Lara Aknin, editor of the report and director of the Help and Happiness Lab at Simon Fraser University.

We recommend you read: Farther from gender equality? The gaps have increased and have new faces

What are the Happiest Countries?

The top 10 happiest countries are Finland, Denmark, Iceland, Israel, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Switzerland, Luxembourg, and New Zealand. Then there are Austria, Australia, Canada, Ireland, and the United States.

Regarding Latin American countries are: Costa Rica in position 23, Uruguay at 28, Chile at 35, Mexico at 36, Panama at 38, Nicaragua at 40, Guatemala at 43, Brazil at 49, El Salvador at 50, Argentina at 52, Honduras at 53, Paraguay at 66, Jamaica at 68, Bolivia at 69, Colombia at 72, the Dominican Republic at 73, Ecuador at 74, Peru at 75 and Venezuela 88, among others.

The countries with the most significant unhappiness are Afghanistan, Lebanon, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Happiness: A Matter of Public Policy

Although it is not fulfilled on all occasions, there is a consensus that democracy should exist to promote the common good. Thus, the most ethical thing is for public policies to be designed to increase the well-being of societies and the population's happiness. This is based on recognizing that happiness is not just an individual matter since we live in communities. Therefore, there must be public policies aimed at this end. "Once happiness is accepted as a goal of government, this has other profound effects on institutional practices. Health, especially mental health, gains even more priority, as do the quality of work, family life, and the community," the report states.

On the other hand, he adds that "The findings are clear. The ethos of a country is important: are people trustworthy, generous, and mutually supportive? Institutions also matter: are people free to make important decisions in life? And the material conditions of life matter, both income and health". And, in this regard, it is essential that the "happiness gaps" are also reduced. In other words, inequality also permeates happiness, and the happiest countries have smaller gaps. Only by alleviating misery is it possible to think of happier societies.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button