“The first World Happiness Report was published in April, 2012, in support of the UN High Level Meeting on happiness and well-being. Since then the world has come a long way. Increasingly, happiness is considered to be the proper measure of social progress and the goal of public policy. In June 2016 the OECD committed itself “to redefine the growth narrative to put people’s well-being at the center of governments’ efforts”.
In February 2017, the United Arab Emirates held a full-day World Happiness meeting, as part of the World Government Summit. Now on World Happinss Day, March 20th, we launch the World Happiness Report 2017, once again back at the United Nations, again published by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, and now supported by a generous three-year grant from the Ernesto Illy Foundation. Some highlights are as follows.
Norway tops the global happiness rankings for 2017
Norway has jumped from 4th place in 2016 to 1st place this year, followed by Denmark, Iceland and Switzerland in a tightly packed bunch. All of the top four countries rank highly on all the main factors found to support happiness: caring, freedom, generosity, honesty, health, income and good governance. Their averages are so close that small changes can re-order the rankings from year to year.
Happiness is both social and personal
This year’s report emphasizes the importance of the social foundations of happiness (see Chapter 2). This can be seen by comparing the life experiences between the top and bottom ten countries in this year’s happiness rankings. There is a four-point happiness gap between the two groups of countries, of which three-quarters is explained by the six variables, half due to differences in having someone to count on, generosity, a sense of freedom, and freedom from corruption. The other half of the explained difference is attributed to GDP per capita and healthy life expectancy, both of which, as the report explains, also depend importantly on the social context.
People in China are no happier than 25 years ago
Our China chapter is led by Richard A. Easterlin, who pioneered the economics of happiness more than 40 years ago. It contrasts the sharply growing per capita income in China over the past 25 years with life evaluations that fell steadily from 1990 till about 2005, recovering since then to about the 1990 levels.
Much of Africa is struggling
The Africa chapter, led by Valerie Møller, tells a much more diverse story, as fits the African reality with its great number and vast range of experiences. But these are often marked by delayed and disappointed hopes for happier lives.
Happiness has fallen in America
The USA is a story of reduced happiness. In 2007 the USA ranked 3rd among the OECD countries; in 2016 it came 19th. The reasons are declining social support and increased corruption (chapter 7) and it is these same factors that explain why the Nordic countries do so much better.
Happiness at Work
Jan-Emmanuel De Neve and George Ward, chapter 6, investigates the role of work and employment in shaping people’s happiness, and studies how employment status, job type, and workplace characteristics affect subjective
well-being. The overwhelming importance of having a job for happiness is evident throughout the analysis, and holds across all of the world’s regions. When considering the world’s population as a whole, people with a job evaluate the quality of their lives much more favorably than those who are unemployed. The clear importance of employment for happiness emphasizes the damage caused by unemployment.
Being of working age and out of the labor force has a different effect on the subjective wellbeing of men and women. The data suggest that not participating in the labor market (for example by being a stay-at-home parent, being out of the labor force through disability, or being retired) is worse for the happiness of men than it is for women. Both men and women of working age who are out of the labor force evaluate their lives more negatively than those in full-time work, but the effect is much stronger for men. Moreover, while men in this situation experience higher negative and lower positive affect, there is no statistically significant difference between the daily emotional experiences of women who are out of the labor force and those who are full-time employees.
No ranking, Portugal aparece em 90º lugar, em 2017 (estava em 94º em 2016)(em 88º em 2015)