Gloomy HK fares worse than Nicaragua for happiness, China ranks below war-torn Libya

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People of Hong Kong remain a miserable bunch, faring worse than countries such as Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan in the happiness stakes. They even fared worse than Nicaragua, Ecuador and El Salvador in the rankings for happiness.

Norway claimed the top spot in the world happiness rantings, a report shows. Along with Norway, the top five includes Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, and Finland. Norway vaulted from 4th place in 2016 to overtake Denmark at the top of the ranking.

“Asia’s World City,” Hong Kong, slotted in at 71 out of 155 countries, surveyed by the World Happiness Report, covering 2014-2016. At least, people in Hong Kong were happier than Filipinos, who ranked 72, just above Serbia. The average score for generosity in the Philippines was worse than that in Hong Kong.

Editors of the World Happiness Report, John F. Helliwell, Richard Layard, and Jeffrey Sachs, say happiness is increasingly considered the proper measure of social progress and the goal of public policy. “Happiness is increasingly considered the proper measure of social progress and the goal of public policy. In June 2016, the OECD committed itself “to redefine the growth narrative to put people’s well-being at the centre of governments’ efforts.”

They cite an OECD definition of ssubjective well-being: “Good mental states, including all of the various evaluations, positive and negative, that people make of their lives and the affective reactions of people to their experiences.”

China ranked 79, well below war-torn Libya and just above violence-wracked Pakistan.
While Subjective well-being is receiving increasing attention as an alternative or complement to GDP as a measure of well-being, the authors note. There could hardly be a better test case than China for comparing the two measures. GDP in China has multiplied over five-fold over the past quarter century, subjective well-being over the same period fell for 15 years before starting a recovery process. Current levels are still, on average, less than a quarter of a century ago. These disparate results reflect the different scope of the two measures.

GDP relates to the economic side of life, and to just one dimension — the output of goods and services. Subjective well-being, in contrast, is a comprehensive measure of individual well-being, taking account of the variety of economic and noneconomic concerns and aspirations that determine people’s well-being. GDP alone cannot account for the enormous structural changes that have affected people’s lives in China. Subjective well-being, in contrast, captures the increased anxiety and new concerns that emerge from growing dependence on the labor market. The data show a marked decline in subjective well-being from 1990 to about 2005, and a substantial recovery since then.

Editors of the World Happiness Report, John F. Helliwell, Richard Layard, and Jeffrey Sachs, say happiness is increasingly considered the proper measure of social progress and the goal of public policy. “Happiness is increasingly considered the proper measure of social progress and the goal of public policy. In June 2016, the OECD committed itself “to redefine the growth narrative to put people’s well-being at the centre of governments’ efforts.”

To compile the report, respondents were asked to evaluate their current lives on a ladder where 0 represents the worst possible life and 10 the best possible.

The first World Happiness Report was published in April, 2012, in support of the UN High Level Meeting on happiness and well-being.

These calculations are illustrative rather than conclusive, the authors say.

The Standard

WORLD’S HAPPIEST COUNTRIES

The rankings are based on income and life expectancy figures, along with how people rate social support, personal freedom, corruption and generosity. Together it is used to generate a happiness score from 1 to 10.

HAPPIEST COUNTRIES

1. Norway 7.54

2. Denmark 7.42

3. Iceland 7.5

4. Switzerland 7.49

5. Finland 7.47

6. Netherlands 7.38

7. Canada 7.32

8. New Zealand 7.32

9. Australia 7.28

10. Sweden 7.28

14. US 6.99

19. United Kingdom 6.714

SADDEST COUNTRIES

146. Yemen 3.59

147. South Sudan 3.59

148. Liberia 3.53

149. Guinea 3.51

150. Togo 3.49

151. Rwanda 3.47

152. Syria 3.46

153. Tanzania 3.35

154. Burundi 2.91

155. Central African Republic 2.69

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