The World Happiness Report

Measuring well-being provides an opportunity to identify and enhance factors which promote personal and collective wellbeing around the world. The World Happiness Report, which was touched upon in an earlier post on sustainable happiness, encourages us to become more aware of the level of self-reported happiness in both our own country and on a wider international level.

What is it?

The first World Happiness Report was released in 2012 in support of the United Nations ‘Wellbeing and Happiness: Defining a New Economic Paradigm’. It presented available global data on national happiness and used evidence from the ‘science of happiness’ which showed that quality of life can be assessed using subjective wellbeing measures.

Since then, new reports have been regularly released by the United Nations; each build on the last, reflecting changes in data and including chapters on specific topics of interest.

The most recent World Happiness Report (Eds; Helliwell, Layard & Sachs, 2019) focuses on happiness and the community. It explores how happiness has evolved, with a focus on how technology, social norms, conflicts and governments impact on communities.

Focus of chapters

Chapters 2 & 3: Links between government and happiness  

Chapter 4: The power of generosity and prosocial behaviour

Chapters 5-7: Changes in information technology

Whilst rankings are based on people’s personal assessments of their subjective well-being, six key factors are used to explain variation of happiness rankings across countries – GDP per capita, social support, healthy life expectancy, social freedom, generosity, and absence of corruption.

The 10 highest ranked countries

  1. Finland
  2. Denmark
  3. Norway
  4. Iceland
  5. Netherlands
  6. Switzerland
  7. Sweden
  8. New Zealand
  9. Canada
  10. Austria

A full ranking of happiness of the countries surveyed is available in the report. It might be interesting to see where your country lies and whether this surprises you.   

The World Happiness Report for 2020 is due to be released on the International Day of Happiness (March 20th) and, when available, can be found freely on the World Happiness Report website.

Thanks for reading!

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