Can you measure happiness? According to the UN, you can do it by comparing aspects such as healthy life expectancy, freedom to make life choices and social assistance in a country.
A group of researchers including John F. Helliwell of the University of British Columbia and Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, the London School of Economics’s Richard Layard and Jeffrey D. Sachs, director of Columbia University’s Earth Institute, have come up with the last World Happiness Report for the UN. They used Gallup World Poll data from the the past three years to rank 156 countries and their aim is to point out specific aspects that policymakers may want to take into account when making decisions.
For the second time, Denmark is on the top spot, receiving the highest combined score on a scale of zero through 10. Rwanda, Burundi, the Central African Republic, Benin and Togo (all in Sub-Saharan Africa) are the least satisfied with their lives, the report states. Russia is in position 68th and China, 93rd. Scores range from 2.936 (Togo) to 7.693 (Denmark).
Even if the first positions correspond to wealthy countries, the report shows that money is not the only ingredient for a fulfilled life: Germany and Japan are in positions 23 and 46, respectively.
The crisis impact
It’s interesting to note that rankings for Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain have dramatically because of the impact of the euro zone crisis.
Now Greece is in 70th position, just behind Cyprus, and it’s the only European country to have slid down the rankings. In 2010-2012, the level of happiness in the country was 5.4 on a scale of 1 to 10, as opposed to 6.3 for the 2005-2007 period.
According to Presseurop, Greek newspaper Ta Nea leads with a headline on the “Misfortune of being Greek.” It says: “Unemployment is the key reason for the gloom” and the fact that “the satisfaction of citizens is in freefall,” reports Ta Nea. “Greeks do not feel they have the freedom to make choices or to rely on social support.”