World Happiness Report 2024, powered by the Gallup World Poll

The recent world happiness report was published March 20th and ranked 140 countries around the globe according to happiness, well-being, and the essence of a great life.

The idea that happiness is an important indicator to how well a country does hails from Bhutan, a poor, underdeveloped county in the Himalayas, where GDH, Gross Domestic Happiness was being measured to indicate how well the country based on humble and modest Buddhist principles, was doing.

Then the UN also realized that GDP, Gross Domestic Product, in no longer a good indicator to measure how successful a country is and adopted the principles introduced by Bhutan.

They have been publishing WHRs, Would Happiness Reports, since 2012

Gallup conducts the poles annually, questioning 3 million people in 150 languages, and Oxford university compiles the data.

Why isn’t GDP a satisfactory indicator? Because for example, it doesn’t take into consideration how much damage was done to the environment due to economic development or how many rivers and oceans got polluted, how many people lost their jobs, how many more cancer patients diagnosed.

In general happiness is a difficult thing to measure because it is subjective, and differs between people and genders, in the various stages of their life.

Even the United States Declaration of Independence from 1776 only promises Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness, not the finding of happiness, but countries have the moral obligation to create an environment where the pursuit of happiness is possible.

The World Happiness Report questionnaire polls participants from all walks of life in 14 areas with core questions about: (1) business & economy, (2) citizen engagement, (3) communications & technology, (4) diversity (social issues), (5) education & families, (6) emotions well-being, (7) environment & energy, (8) food & shelter, (9) government and politics, (10) law & order (safety), (11) health, (12) religion & ethics, (13) transportation, and (14) work.

The data compiled in these report is designed to help governments make good decisions because economic development on its own is a terrible goal, the well-being of the people who live in the country is a much better one. And it depends on how many green areas they have around them, how good the air quality, how easy the commute to work, how convenient the public transportation, how great the schools. Other issues that matter to people such as reasonably priced childcare, availability of housing, efficient and accessible health care, well equipped and trained police, equal the pay, color-blindness, tolerance, inclusivity, supportive civic society organizations, engaged neighbors etc., contribute to our well-being and the satisfaction we derive from life.

We should all be asking these questions:

Does the country have our backs, is it there to support us?

Or do we feel that we are supporting the government?

Are our governors governing with our needs in mind?

With the needs of our kids?

Our aging parents?

Our pets?

The rankings: Finland has been in the first place for five years. The US and Germany once in the top 20, slipped to #23 and #24 respectively, probably because of the war in Europe. Afghanistan is in the bottom of the list at #143. Venezuela #83, Colombia #76, Costa Rica #11, Netherlands #9

World happiness report


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March 25, 2024
Rona Coster