Mzansi is sad, drops four places in World Happiness report

15 March 2018 - 06:56 By Jessica Levitt
Image: ALON SKUY

Do you think things are bad in Russia, Libya and Pakistan? Well, think again!

According to the United Nations (UN) World Happiness Report, which was released on Wednesday, South Africa sits behind all of these countries to come in at number 105 out of 156 countries.

The reports cites six major factors in determining the happiness of a country: G.D.P per capita, social support, life expectancy, freedom to make life choices, generosity and perceptions of corruption.

It was produced by the UN's Sustainable Development Solutions Network and edited by three economists using information from Gallup International surveys conducted between 2015 and 2017.

In Africa, Mauritius (55), Libya (70), Algeria (84), Morocco (85), Nigeria (91), Somalia (98), Cameroon (99) and Gabon (103) all came in ahead of South Africa on the list.

The unhappiest nation was Burundi whose leader, President Pierre Nkurunziza, changed his title from “eternal supreme guide” to “visionary” this week. Critics decry a cult of personality surrounding Nkurunziza, who has been in power since 2005 and triggered a political crisis when he won a third term three years ago.

At the top

Finland moved from fifth place to first place with the report explaining that all the top countries have high values for the key-variables that support well-being: health life expectancy, social support, freedom, trust and generosity.

The issue of migration was placed at the heart of the 2018 report, which also ranked 117 countries according to happiness of their immigrants. With a population of around 5.5 million people, Finland counted some 300,000 foreigners in 2016.

“The most striking finding of the report is the remarkable consistency between the happiness of immigrants and the locally born,” said John Helliwell, co-editor of the report and a professor at the University of British Columbia.

The study found that the 10 happiest countries in the overall rankings also scored highest on immigrant happiness, suggesting that migrants’ wellbeing depends primarily on the quality of life in their adopted home.

“Those who move to happier countries gain, while those who move to less happy countries lose,” added Helliwell.

Other countries in the top ten include: Norway (2) Denmark (3) Iceland (4) Switzerland (5) Netherlands (6) Canada (7) New Zealand (8) Sweden (9) and Australia (10).

- additional reporting by AFP

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