Hap­pi­ness in­dex

The Pak Banker - - 4EDITORIAL -

THE Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment So­lu­tions Net­work, an in­ter­na­tional panel of so­cial sci­en­tists that in­cludes econ­o­mists, psy­chol­o­gists and pub­lic health ex­perts con­vened by the United Na­tions sec­re­tary gen­eral, Ban Ki-moon, an­nu­ally pub­lishes a World Hap­pi­ness Re­port rank­ing coun­tries on a scale of 1 to 10. The United Na­tions pub­lished the first such study in 2012. Ac­cord­ing to SDSN, the level of hap­pi­ness across coun­tries can be ex­plained by six vari­ables: gross do­mes­tic prod­uct per capita; healthy years of life ex­pectancy; so­cial sup­port; trust (as mea­sured by per­ceived ab­sence of cor­rup­tion in govern­ment and busi­ness); per­ceived free­dom to make life choices; and gen­eros­ity (as mea­sured by do­na­tions).

The 2016 World Hap­pi­ness Re­port re­veals that Den­mark is the hap­pi­est coun­try in the world, while cri­sis-torn Syria and Bu­rundi are the most mis­er­able. Switzer­land is in the 2nd place. As last year, Ice­land, Nor­way, Fin­land, Canada, Nether­lands, New Zealand, Aus­tralia and Swe­den are among the top 10. Bu­rundi is the most un­happy coun­try, fol­lowed by war-rav­aged Syria, Togo, Afghanistan and six other coun­tries in sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa - Benin, Rwanda, Guinea, Liberia, Tan­za­nia and Mada­gas­car as the least happy of 157 coun­tries. They are also among the poor­est in the world. The United States is ahead of sev­eral Western Euro­pean coun­tries to be 13th most happy na­tion, up two spots from last year. Ger­many is 16th, Bri­tain 23rd and France 32nd. The group of Middle East­ern king­doms - Saudi Ara­bia, Qatar, Kuwait and Bahrain - out-ranked Italy, which came in at num­ber 50, and Ja­pan, which took the 53rd spot. China, the world's most pop­u­lous coun­try, is ranked 83rd and In­dia, the world's largest democ­racy, came in at 118. Both are among the world's largest economies.

Ac­cord­ing to the Hap­pi­ness Re­port, Pak­istan is a more happy coun­try than In­dia. The re­port says that Pak­istan en­joys a bet­ter po­si­tion of 92 in the list that puts Sri Lanka at 117th place, a po­si­tion ahead of In­dia. While the dif­fer­ences be­tween coun­tries where peo­ple are happy and those where they are not can­not be sci­en­tif­i­cally mea­sured, one thing is clear: the rich­est coun­tries are not the hap­pi­est. When coun­tries sin­gle-mind­edly pur­sue in­di­vid­ual ob­jec­tives, such as eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment to the ne­glect of so­cial and en­vi­ron­men­tal ob­jec­tives, the re­sults can be highly ad­verse for hu­man well-be­ing, This is proved by the fact that many coun­tries in re­cent years have achieved high eco­nomic growth but this has been at the cost of sharply ris­ing in­equal­ity, so­cial ex­clu­sion and grave dam­age to the nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment.

The field of hap­pi­ness re­search has ex­panded rapidly in re­cent years, but there is a great deal of dis­agree­ment about how to mea­sure hap­pi­ness. Some schol­ars find peo­ple's sub­jec­tive as­sess­ments of their well-be­ing to be un­re­li­able, and they pre­fer ob­jec­tive in­di­ca­tors like eco­nomic and health data. The schol­ars be­hind the World Hap­pi­ness Re­port say they have tried to take both types of data into ac­count. It has also been noted that crises can prompt vastly dif­fer­ent re­sponses based on the un­der­ly­ing so­cial fab­ric. In Greece, where the econ­omy be­gan to de­cline in 2007, set­ting off a cri­sis in the euro zone that has re­sulted in three fi­nan­cial bailouts, wide­spread cor­rup­tion and mis­trust are as­so­ci­ated with the di­min­ish­ing sense of hap­pi­ness over the past decade. By con­trast, trust and "so­cial cap­i­tal" are so high in Ja­pan that schol­ars found, to their sur­prise, that hap­pi­ness ac­tu­ally in­creased in Fukushima, which was dev­as­tated by an earth­quake and tsunami in 2011, be­cause an out­pour­ing of gen­eros­ity and co­op­er­a­tion con­trib­uted to the com­mu­nity's re­silience and re­build­ing.

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