That hasn’t stopped the United Nations trying to find ways to accurately gauge it. The result has been the publication of the annual World Happiness Report.
First published in 2012, the report has been conducted every year by the UN’s Sustainable Development Solutions Network. The metrics it uses when surveying citizens in each UN member state include social support, personal and civil freedoms, life expectancy, income per capita and levels of corruption among others.
How does the 2021 happiness report compare to other years?
This year’s newly-released report is a little different. Aside from the usual criteria, the 2021 report analysed people’s emotional responses to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, how governments dealt with it and how trust in government itself related to happiness levels.
Despite a bleak year in which nearly 3 million people have died (at the time of publication), one of the key findings of the report was that the world largely remained optimistic about the future – if not more anxious compared to pre-pandemic times.
The top 10 remains largely unchanged compared to previous years (with every single Nordic country making the list again). But the handling of the pandemic has seen significant changes in happiness ratings in several countries.
- Yellow, purple, blue and pink: Welcome to the world’s most vibrant one-colour towns
Some of the biggest happiness gains were in countries in East and South Asia. Early intervention and stringent government controls provided an effective buffer against the potential impact of coronavirus on people’s daily lives.