Since 2012, when the first World Happiness Report was published, the index has become a useful tool for measuring the gains and drawbacks of living in various parts of the world.
The 2017 happiness index does not fail in that regard as it ranks countries but more importantly, shows in a concise report the changes that have influenced the rankings and what countries can do better to increase happiness.
For the World Happiness Report, happiness is considered to be the proper measure of social progress and the goal of public policy. This year’s report was launched on World Happiness Day by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network now supported by a generous three-year grant from the Ernesto Illy Foundation.
As usual, the group used six key variables; levels of GDP, life expectancy, generosity, social support, freedom, and corruption; to measure the level of happiness in a country.
The final rankings were sourced using the answers to polls shared randomly to citizens of various countries and then the results of the polls were compared to Dystopia; a fictional realm the organization created to represent everything miserable.
The 2017 happiness index emphasized the importance of the social foundations of happiness which is explained in detail here but basically means that life experiences both within and outside countries played a big part in the final results. Life experiences between the top and bottom ten countries in the 2017 happiness index, for instance, showed a four-point happiness gap between the two groups of countries.
Within the countries themselves, life experiences like unemployment, physical health, income inequality were huge sources of misery. Norway overtook Denmark to become the happiest country in the world and the four other countries who make the top five all rank highly on all the main factors found to support happiness.
Africa, however, did not do so well as a whole. Our continent, in fact, stands out as the unhappiest continent in the world. In the 2017 happiness index report, the average ladder scores for over four in five African countries are below the mid-point of the scale. The report also posits that there are considerable inequalities in life evaluations in African countries, and this inequality in happiness has increased over the past years.
Algeria is the happiest country in Africa and Tanzania is the least happy. The complete picture of the ranking of various African countries in the 2017 happiness index can be found below.
7. South Africa
10. Sierra Leone
20. Congo (Brazzaville)
21. Congo (Kinshasa)
23. Ivory Coast
26. Burkina Faso
37. South Sudan
44. Central African Republic