In a new ranking of the happiest and most miserable States are in the lead of the Scandinavian countries. The US fell back to 14th place, Russia also climbed to seven lines, taking 49 place. At the bottom of the list – distressed countries of Africa and the Middle East and Ukraine. How was calculated the happiness index and how objective is it?
Today, the international day of happiness (there is a holiday, it was established by the UN General Assembly in 2012), was published the 2017 edition of the report on world happiness index. Prepares this document annually a Network for decision-making in sustainable development – international initiative, also created by the United Nations. According to the report, in the first place by this index were Norway, on latest – the Central African Republic. Russia got 49 line.
“Growth of happiness index can be seen as a strengthening of public support for the political course of the country and increasing his pleasure with his life, despite all the difficulties Russia has faced in recent years”
How can you measure such a thing as happiness? The UN has a methodology. For starters, the organization conducted a survey in which 1 million people in 155 countries must assess to what extent they are satisfied with their lives on a 10-point scale. The researchers also consider several indicators of countries: GDP per capita, healthy life expectancy, responsiveness (level of encouragement from relatives and friends), social security, freedom and level of corruption. On the basis of all these indicators, calculated the average happiness index over the last 3 years (e.g., 2017 from 2014 to 2016), which is published annually.
Methodology, it should be noted, is very peculiar, given that many of the studied indicators easily lend itself to objective calculation. However, the preparation of such reports, the UN has been practicing since 2012. The main purpose of this index is to move away from the idea of measuring the level of development only by GDP and create a measure that would have guided the state in formulating its policy to make its citizens happier. That is, from solving the problems of hunger and poverty, which have not been overcome, the UN went on to fight for the happiness of the peoples of the world.
“Happiness index is a relatively innovative evaluation scheme of economic development of different countries. You have to understand that major countries rarely occupy the first place. This index is estimated on many indicators, some of them are very conditional. It is a system that is mostly oriented on the political component,” – said the newspaper LOOK President of the Center for strategic communications Dmitry Abzalov.
“The meaning of the happiness index – satisfaction. And the meaning of economic indicators is wealth. So sometimes there is a high index of happiness in the regions with low standard of living, that is, this satisfaction is not always equivalent to economic success. In addition, very often a surge of economic optimism occurs during periods of very serious depression – said the expert. – So must be some kind of indicator that would estimate the efficiency of the economy as a whole, and the satisfaction of citizens in the country.”
The current report revealed a number of interesting trends. Our country has moved in the ranking of the happiest States from 56 to 49, ahead of Belize, Japan, and Lithuania and almost catching occupying the 48th Italy. The happiness index is 5,963 Russia, and Italy – 5,964 (leading Norway – 7,537). And this despite all the difficulties Russia has faced in recent years, among them the economic crisis and imposed by Western sanctions, and promote the Western media and politicians are anti-Russian hysteria. It is difficult to judge how objective the UN figure, however, in such conditions it is possible to perceive the growth of this indicator as increased public support for the political course of the country, as well as increasing his contentment with his life.
Furthermore, if demonstrates the positive dynamics of satisfaction of the population in the current difficult period, we can expect that in the future, when it will overcome the economic crisis, this trend will only increase.
“The fact that Russia moved up demonstrates a serious improvement of the citizens’ feelings. This is largely due to the beginning of the year and overcoming the difficult period of the past three years. If you look, it is correlated with financial and economic indicators. Strongly growing economic optimism. However, it will be important to watch these indicators for the current year”, – says Dmitry Abzalov.
The authors of the report argue that a decisive influence on the estimates of their happiness index is not the wealth of the country, namely social factors. Although GDP per capita and accounted for in the calculation to account for the significantly to increase the ranking, the increase should be huge (e.g., as calculated by Bloomberg, in the case of the US this GDP growth per capita would be approximately 50 per cent). This explains the fact that the first ten in the ranking are Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, Finland, Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Sweden – countries with traditionally strong social focus. Noticeable lag behind such economic giants as the US (14th), Germany (16), United Kingdom (19) France (31), Japan (51), China (79), India (122). Completing the rating of the endangered countries of Africa and Middle East: South Sudan, Liberia, Guinea, Togo, Rwanda, Syria, Tanzania, Burundi and the Central African Republic.
Dmitry Abzalov, said: “Northern Europe has made a major bet to use their income for investment in the social segment, especially in healthcare and education – in human capital. Therefore, in this index they are among the leaders. Plus, there is less population and political activity is not as pronounced”.
Separately should stay on the United States. A pillar of world democracy of the last years shows a negative trend in the rankings. Compared with the report in 2016, the United States dropped from 13 to 14 place (the index fell from 7,104 to 6,993). What explains this episode? The authors of the document believe that the culprit is social policy. Washington aims to increase economic growth and military power. At the same time in the social sphere is manifested more and more problems – growing inequality, ethnic conflicts, and corruption, which increased significantly compared to 2006-2007. The arrival of trump to power and announced it to the economic and political steps would only exacerbate the problem, says Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the UN Network for decision-making in the field of sustainable development. In his opinion, the crisis is a social crisis, not an economic one.
“If you look closely even the economic indicators, the past year has been very difficult for the United States, – underlines Dmitry Abzalov. – Their economy showed one of the lowest growth rates in its history. Barack Obama left a very difficult legacy from the economic point of view, including in terms of external debt. A significant portion of US citizens last year worsened the situation, in fact they have become worse to feel than in the ‘ 90s, for example.”
These indicators will fall and at the end of this year, the analyst believes. It is also worth noting that the further into the ranking of the happiest and most unfortunate countries of the world is rolled back Ukraine, has moved from 123 to 132 line. It took place after Sudan and Ghana, and in front of Uganda and Burkina Faso. The Maidan and the Kiev authorities unleashed a civil war in the country and not bring it to Europe, however, put the state on the brink of economic and social collapse. It is once again confirmed the UN report on happiness index.