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.