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Assessing happiness in the world

Sep 14, 2015 | News

(14 September 2015) – The World Happiness Report 2015, produced by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), contains analysis from leading experts in the fields of economics, neuroscience, national statistics, and describes how measurements of subjective well-being can be used effectively to assess development.

Since it was first published by the UN in 2012, the World Happiness Report demonstrated that well-being and happiness are critical indicators of a nation’s economic and social development, and should be a key aim of policy.

This year’s report looks at the changes in happiness levels in 158 countries, and examines the reasons behind the statistics. As previous reports have done, the World Happiness Report 2015 reveals trends in the data judging just how happy countries really are.

On a scale running from 0 to 10, people in over 150 countries, surveyed by Gallup over the period 2012-15, reveal an average score of 5.1 (out of 10). The report identifies the countries with the highest levels of happiness: Switzerland, Iceland, Denmark, Norway and Canada are on top of the list, but poorer countries like Costa Rica (12th), Mexico (14th) and Brazil (16th) also rank well.

Six key variables explain three-quarters of the variation in annual national average scores over time and among countries: real GDP per capita, healthy life expectancy, having someone to count on, perceived freedom to make life choices, freedom from corruption, and generosity. This year for the first time ever, the Report breaks down the data by gender, age, and region. It finds striking differences, some much larger than have previously been found.

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