By Corina Oliquino | FilAm Star Correspondent
PRE-RELEASED to celebrate UN’s World Happiness Day last March 20th, the World Happiness Report 2016 ranks 156 countries by their happiness levels.
The fourth World Happiness Report sees the Philippines placing 82nd from its 90th finish from the previous report with Denmark topping the list and closely followed by Switzerland as the happiest country in the world while war-torn Syria and Burundi are the most miserable.
“Measuring self-reported happiness and achieving well-being should be on every nation’s agenda as they begin to pursue sustainable development goals,” Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University said.
“Indeed the Goals themselves embody the very idea that human well-being should be nurtured through a holistic approach that combines economic, social and environmental objectives. Rather than taking a narrow approach focused solely on economic growth, we should promote societies that are prosperous, just, and environmentally sustainable,” Sachs added.
This year’s World Happiness Report is a shorter version of the original and is considered as an update to follow the World Happiness Report 2017.
This new report also gives attention and special role to the measurement and consequences of “inequality” in the distribution of well-being among countries and regions.
In a statement, organizers from World Happiness Report said that in their previous reports the editors have argued that “happiness provides a better indicator of human welfare than do income, poverty, education, health and good government measured separately” but in this 2016 report they argued that,” the inequality of well-being provides a broader measure of inequality.”
“They find that people are happier living in societies where there is less inequality of happiness. They also find that happiness inequality has increased significantly (comparing 2012-2015 to 2005-2011) in most countries, in almost all global regions, and for the population of the world as a whole.”
The 2016 update also found the Top 10 countries to be the same as that of the 2015 report, but their ordering has changed once again with Denmark regaining the top spot from Switzerland as a close second followed by Iceland and Norway.
The following are the countries that made it to the top 10 (in order): Finland, Canada, Netherlands, New Zealand, Australia and Sweden.
The US ranked 13th, two places higher than the 2015 spot despite having a low score.
“The rankings show both consistency and change,” Professor John Helliwell of the University of British Columbia and the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research and the editor of the report said.
“The consistency at the top reflects mainly that life evaluations are based on life circumstances that usually evolve slowly, and that are all at high levels in the top countries. The year-to-year changes are also moderated by the averaging of data from three years of surveys in order to provide large sample sizes. However, when there have been long-lasting changes in the quality of life, they have led to large changes in life evaluation levels and rankings, as shown by the many countries with large gains or losses from 2005-2007 to 2013-2015,” Helliwell added.
The authors also revealed the seven key-variables in this year’s report as the following: real GDP per capita, healthy life expectancy, having someone to count on, perceived freedom to make life choices, freedom from corruption and generosity.
Authors of the World Happiness Report 2016 Update also revealed that the rankings which are based on surveys done in 156 countries showed that people evaluate their lives on a scale running from 0 to 10 reveal an average score of 5.1 (out of 10) – covering the three years 2013-2015.
According to Rappler, the Philippines had a score of 5.279 out of 10 in the World Happiness Report 2016 Update, a notch higher than China which was in 83rd place with a score of 5.245 and behind Azerbaijan at 81st place with 5.291.
The article also added that out of 126 countries with comparable data available, 55 had significant increases in happiness and 45 had significant decreases, the report said.
According to the report, the Philippines’ happiness index went up by 0.425 points in the period and considered as the ‘27th highest gainer’ among the 156 countries surveyed.