Tuesday, March 20, 2018

World Happiness Report 2018

The annual World Happiness Report is out again and March 20th is the International Day of Happiness. The report measures six key variables supporting well-being: income, healthy life expectancy, social support, freedom, trust, and generosity. I first saw this in the news in 2016 and wrote about it then. It's interesting to see how the rankings change for the countries I've lived in and will live in next.

The top 10 is dominated by Nordic countries. Sweden is #9 and about the same as the previous 2 years I've looked at this since I lived there. The U.S. slipped from #13 to #14 last year and slid further to #18 this year. It's not a good trend so we definitely need to work on those key variables contributing to everyone's well-being instead of mostly benefiting the rich and well-connected. We could learn a few things from the countries above us on the list. That's assuming happiness is a shared goal in American society and the metrics for this report are the right ones. Wasn't there something about life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness at one time in our history? It's worth looking at more deeply.

Top 20
1 - Finland, 2 - Norway, 3 - Denmark, 4 - Iceland, 5 - Switzerland
6 - Netherlands, 7 - Canada, 8 - New Zealand, 9 - Sweden, 10 - Australia
11 - Israel, 12 - Austria, 13 - Costa Rica, 14 - Ireland, 15 - Germany
16 - Belgium, 17 - Luxembourg, 18 - U.S., 19 - U.K., 20 - United Arab Emirates

My current home of Venezuela plummeted from #44 to #82 last year which was the biggest decline from a decade prior. Venezuela is now #102 out of 156 as they continue the freefall. It's not surprising that the slide continues with everything going on around here.

Venezuela is last place on the list of changes from 2008-2010 to 2015-2017. That means they've had the largest decline of any country during that time period. This implies they had a good level of happiness which is now turning to a new kind of misery they're not used to having. We've been relatively happy here because we're generally happy people (with a foreign income helping immensely), but the overall environment of declining happiness definitely wears on us. I have mixed feelings about our upcoming move because there's so many wonderful things about living in Caracas mixed with so many difficulties.

Our next home will be in Latvia which is #53. That's not bad on a list of 156. Apparently they're moving up the list since they're #2 on top of the change list from 2008-2010 to 2015-2017. Our future is looking brighter for a happier environment since our next country's overall happiness is on a measurable upswing.

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