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#143 - Global Happiness Report

The World Happiness Report is an annual publication of the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network. It contains articles, and rankings of national happiness based on respondent ratings of their own lives, which the report also correlates with various life factors.

In July 2011, the UN General Assembly adopted resolution 65/309 Happiness: Towards a Holistic Definition of Development inviting member countries to measure the happiness of their people and to use the data to help guide public policy. In 2012 this was followed by the first UN High Level Meeting called Wellbeing and Happiness: Defining a New Economic Paradigm. Bhutan then adopted gross national happiness instead of gross domestic product as their main development indicator.

World Happiness Report have been issued on an annual basis. The reports primarily uses data from the Gallup World Poll and are available from the World Happiness Report website.(1) 

The 2019 ranking of the top 10 countries shows the top 58% of the world's population:

There is no correlation between the size of the population or the happiness score.  The U.S. by far exceeds the happiness score of all others. India has the lowest happiness score. The disparity between the U.S. wealth per adult or GDP per adult and all other countries is even greater except that the happiness rankings for China and the U.S. are comparable whereas the difference in wealth is ten-fold.

The distribution of happiness score on a global scale is best illustrated in the  following:

The above chart suggests that 58% of the global population, or 4.5 billion people can be grouped as poor or extremely poor. Their happiness index shows values of 5 or less. Only 7% of the global population can be categorized as reporting a happy or reasonably happy index values of 9 or 10. The balance of the population, with index  values of 6-8 represent a global population of 35% which can be classified as showing varying degrees of potential migration towards the achievement of happiness.

The range in disparity in happiness is dramatized by comparing the #1 ranking country and the bottom ranking #155. The differences in happiness are enormous.  It just happens that a large number of bottom ranking countries are small in population.

All of the bottom ranked countries, from rank 90 through 106 show happiness index values from 5.2 to 4.7.


With a few exceptions (e.g. the U.S. and China) more than 80% of the global population can be considered not happy. Of course none of that applied to the 0.5% of the global population with income over $1 million. The differences are far reaching. With the rapid dissemination of information about the unhappy conditions of most mankind the question can be asked whether the existing acceptance of poverty and unhappiness will remain for the under-privileged. In the same way as the dangers of global warming have emerged only in the last two decades, we can now anticipate the rising effects of immigration from poor and impoverished countries to the islands of prosperity, e.g. the U.S., Canada, Australia and Europe.

The current  migration of 78 million immigrants to Europe and 58 million to the USA represents a demographic change that is starting to disturb existing political alignments.  The intra-Asian migrations  of 80 million people within Asian countries creates new upheavals for the governance of many nations.

 In the next century we can see a breakdown of the international order that was based largely on the dominance from British post-colonial countries. With easy access to communication technologies an weapons it is unlikely that well over five billion poor people   will remain socially and politically indifferent to continue with the status quo.

(1) See: for 2018 Report.

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