It makes me happy to see the results of this annual report on happiness. The description sums it up: “The Experts say social support, honesty and generosity key to wellbeing.” How much social support, honesty, and generosity is there in your country?
For the uninitiated, this survey uses a variety of criteria to generate a global ranking. These include GDP per capita, social support, healthy life expectancy, freedom to make life choices, generosity, and perceptions of corruption.
The World Happiness Report is a publication of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, powered by the Gallup World Poll data. The Report is supported by The Ernesto Illy Foundation, illycaffè, Davines Group, Unilever’s largest ice cream brand Wall’s, The Blue Chip Foundation, The William, Jeff, and Jennifer Gross Family Foundation, The Happier Way Foundation, and The Regenerative Society Foundation
Here are the top 20 countries in descending order:
10: New Zealand
16: United States
17: United Kingdom
I wonder what other criteria should be included to create a richer and more accurate assessment for this annual snapshot. For example, I have lived in Vietnam since 2005 and would argue that Vietnamese are generally happier than US Americans for a variety of reasons. Contributing factors are hope for the future and a sense of optimism about their lives and society. Vietnam ranks 77th out of 146. Follow this link to see the ranking. There are periodic surveys that confirm this so it’s not just anecdotal evidence.
The World Happiness Report also raises issues not only about the type of economic system of each country but the many variations on a similar theme. US capitalism is qualitatively very different from that practices in the top five countries, for example. It is a system with significantly greater income and wealth inequality, poverty, higher personal debt levels, and more violence, to name just a few. The net result is fewer opportunities for many of its citizens. (The reasons that countries like the UK and the US are even in the top 20 have little to do with social support, honesty, and generosity.)
In addition, it speaks to the issue of good governance and the fundamental purpose of a government.
Shalom (שלום), MAA