The World Happiness Report is an annual publication of United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network that contains rankings of national happiness and analysis of the data from various perspectives. The World Happiness Report is edited by John F. Helliwell, Richard Layard and Jeffrey Sachs. The 2017 edition added three associate editors; Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, Haifang Huang, and Shun Wang. Authors of chapters include Richard Easterlin, Edward F. Diener, Martine Durand, Nicole Fortin, Jon Hall, Valerie Møller, and many others.
In July 2011, the UN General Assembly 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. On April 2, 2012, this was followed by the first UN High Level Meeting called Wellbeing and Happiness: Defining a New Economic Paradigm, which was chaired by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Prime Minister Jigme Thinley of Bhutan, a nation that adopted gross national happiness instead of gross domestic product as their main development indicator.
The first World Happiness Report was released on April 1, 2012 as a foundational text for the UN High Level Meeting: Well-being and Happiness: Defining a New Economic Paradigm, drawing international attention. The report outlined the state of world happiness, causes of happiness and misery, and policy implications highlighted by case studies. In 2013, the second World Happiness Report was issued, and since then has been issued on an annual basis with the exception of 2014. The report primarily uses data from the Gallup World Poll. Each annual report is available to the public to download on the World Happiness Report website.
In the reports, experts in fields including economics, psychology, survey analysis, and national statistics, describe how measurements of well-being can be used effectively to assess the progress of nations, and other topics. Each report is organized by chapters that delve deeper into issues relating to happiness, including mental illness, the objective benefits of happiness, the importance of ethics, policy implications, and links with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's (OECD) approach to measuring subjective well-being and other international and national efforts.
World Happiness Reports were issued in 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016 (an update) and 2017. In addition to ranking countries happiness and well-being levels, each report has contributing authors and most focus on a subject. The data used to rank countries in each report is drawn from the Gallup World Poll, as well as other sources such as the World Values Survey, in some of the reports. The Gallup World Poll questionnaire measures 14 areas within its core questions: (1) business & economic, (2) citizen engagement, (3)communications & technology, (4) diversity (social issues), (5) education & families, (6) emotions (well-being), (7) environment & energy, (8) food & shelter, (9) government and politics, (10) law & order (safely), (11) health, (12) religion and ethics, (13) transportation, and (14) work.
The 2012 World Happiness Report was issued at the UN High Level Meeting Well-being and Happiness: Defining a New Economic Paradigm by editors John F. Helliwell, Richard Layard and Jeffrey Sachs. Part one has an introduction (chapter 1) and three chapters: (2) the State of World Happiness, (3) Causes of Happiness and Misery, Some Policy Implications. Part two has three chapters, each a case study, of Bhutan, the United Kingdom Office of National Statistics, and the OECD.
Chapter 1, The Introduction is by Jeffrey Sachs and references Buddha and Aristotle, identifies today's era as the anthropocene, and identifies the reasons GDP is not a sufficient measure to guide governments and society.
Chapter 2, The State of World Happiness, is written by John F. Helliwell and Shun Wang, and contains a discussion of subjective well-being measures that ranges from the validity of subjective well-being measures to the seriousness of happiness, happiness set points and cultural comparisons, and it includes data from the Gallup World Poll, European Social Survey, and the World Values Survey.
Chapter 3, The Causes of Happiness and Misery is written by Richard Layard, Andrew Clark, and Claudia Senik, and contemplates research on the impact on happiness of the external factors of income, work, community and governance, values and religion, as well as the internal factors of mental health, physical health, family experience, education, and gender and age.
Chapter 4, Some Policy Implications, written by John F. Helliwell, Richard Layard and Jeffrey Sachs, calls for a greater understanding on how governments can measure happiness, the determinants of happiness, and use of happiness data and findings about determinants for policy purposes. It also highlights the role of GDP ("GDP is important but not all that is important") as a guide to policy makers, the importance that policy makers should place on providing opportunities for employment; the role of happiness in policy making ("Making happiness an objective of governments would not therefore lead to the “servile society,” and indeed quite the contrary...Happiness comes from an opportunity to mold one’s own future, and thus depends on a robust level of freedom."); the role of values and religion ("In well-functioning societies there is widespread support for the universal value that we should treat others as we would like them to treat us. We need to cultivate social norms so that the rich and powerful are never given a feeling of impunity vis-à-vis the rest of society."); calls for wider access to psychological therapies in a section on mental health citing the fact that one third of all families are affected by mental illness; identifies improvements in physical health as "probably the single most important factor that has improved human happiness" and calls out the rich-poor gap in health care between rich and poor countries; calls on workplace and governmental policies that encourage work-life balance and reduce stress, including family support and child care; and states that "Universal access to education is widely judged to be a basic human right..." The chapter concludes with a philosophical discussion.
Chapter 5, Case Study: Bhutan Gross National Happiness and the GNH Index is written by Karma Ura, Sabine Alkire, and Tsoki Zangmo. It gives a short history of the development of the Gross National Happiness (GNH) concept in Bhutan, and an explanation of the GNH index, data collection and data analysis process, including the rating methodology to determine if an individual experiences happiness sufficiency levels, as well as the policy and lifestyle implications
Chapter 6, Case Study: ONS Measuring Subjective Well-being: The UK Office of National Statistics Experience is written by Stephen Hicks. It covers the basis for the creation of the Measuring National Well-being Programme in the UK's Office of National Statistics (ONS), and the development of their methodology for measuring well-being.
Chapter 5, Case Study OECD Guidelines on Measuring Subjective Well-being is an explanation about the process and rationale the OECD was undertaking to develop its Guidelines on Measuring Subjective Well-being, which it issued in 2013.
The 2013 World Happiness Report has eight chapters: (1) Introduction, (2) World Happiness: Trends, Explanations and Distribution, (3) Mental Illness and Unhappiness, (4) The Objective Benefits of Subjective Well-being, (5) Restoring Virtue Ethics in the Quest for Happiness, (6) Using Well-being as a Guide to Policy, (7) The OECD Approach to Measuring Subjective Well-being, and (8) From Capabilities to Contentment: Testing the Links between Human Development and Life Satisfaction.
Chapter 1, Introduction is written by John F. Helliwell, Richard Layard and Jeffrey Sachs. It synopsizes the chapters and gives a discussion of the term happiness.
Chapter 2, World Happiness: Trends, Explanations and Distributions is written by John F. Helliwell and Shun Wang. It provides ratings among countries and regions for satisfaction with life using the Cantril Ladder, positive and negative affect (emotions), and log of GDP per capita, years of healthy life expectancy, having someone to count on in times of trouble, perceptions of corruption, prevalence of generosity, and freedom to make life choices.
Chapter 3, Mental Illness and Unhappiness is written by Richard Layard, Dan Chisholm, Vikram Patel, and Shekhar Saxel. It identifies the far ranging prevalence of mental illness around the world (10% of the world's population at one time) and provides the evidence showing that "mental illness is a highly influential - and...the single biggest - determinant of misery." It concludes with examples of interventions implemented by countries around the world.
Chapter 4, The Objective Benefits of Subjective Well-being is written by Jan-Emmanuel de Neve, Ed Diener, Louis Tay and Cody Xuereb. It provides an explanation of the benefits of subjective well-being (happiness) on health & longevity, income, productivity & organizational behavior, and individual & social behavior. It touches on the role of happiness in human evolution through rewarding behaviors that increase evolutionary success and beneficial to survival.
Chapter 5, Restoring Virtue Ethics in the Quest for Happiness is written by Jeffrey Sachs. It argues that "a renewed focus on the role of ethics, and in particular of virtuous behavior, in happiness could lead us to new and effective strategies for raising individual, national and global well-being," looking to the eightfold noble path (the teachings of the dharma handed down in the Buddhist tradition that encompass wise view/understanding, wise intention, wise speech, wise action, wise livelihood, and effort, concentration and mindfulness), Aristotelian philosophy (people are social animals, "with individual happiness secured only within a political community...[which] should organize its institutions to promote virtuous behavior), and Christian doctrine of St. Thomas Aquinas ("placing happiness in the context of servicing God's will"). It gives an explanation of the evolution of the field of economics up t the "failures of hyper-commercialism" and suggests an antidote based on four global ethical values: (1) non-violence and respect for life, (2) justice and solidarity, (3) honesty and tolerance, and (4) mutual esteem and partnership.
Chapter 6, Using Well-being as Guide to Public Policy is written by Gus O'Donnell. This chapter gives a status report on the issues governments grapple with in adopting well-being and happiness measures and goals for policy, from understanding the data or establishing whether a specific policy improves well-being, to figuring out how to "incorporate well-being into standard policy making." It provides examples of efforts to measure happiness and well-being from Bhutan, New Zealand, South Africa, the UK, and cities and communities in the USA, Canada, Australia and Tasmania. It identifies the key policy areas of health, transport and education for policy makers to focus on and includes discussions about interpersonal comparability (concentrating on "getting people out of misery" instead of making happy people happier), discount rate (do we invest more in happiness for people today or in the future?) and putting a monetary value on happiness for policy trade off decisions (e.g. If "a 10% reduction in noise increase SWB by one unit, then we can infer that a 10% reduction is "worth" $1,000" when $1,000 would increase a person's SWB by one unit).
Chapter 7, The OECD Approach to Measuring Subjective Well-being is written by Martine Durand and Conal Smith. This chapter was written the same year the OECD issued its Guidelines on Measuring Subjective Well-being, and is a synopsis of such. It includes a definition for subjective well-being: life evaluation (a person's reflection on their life and life circumstances), affect (positive and negative emotions) and eudaimonia; core measures, a discussion on data collection processes, survey and sample design, other aspects of using subjective well-being metrics, and ideas on how policy-makers can use subjective well-being data. It surveys the status of wealthy countries subjective well-being data collection process, and identifies future directions of experimentation and better income measures, citing the Easterlin Paradox as the basis for this call.
Chapter 8, From Capabilities to Contentment: Testing the Links between Human Development and Life Satisfaction is written by Jon Hall. This chapter explains the components of human development using objective metrics: (1) education, health and command over income and nutrition resources, (2) participation and freedom, (3) human security, (4) equity, and (5) sustainability; key findings of the Human Development Index (HDI) ("weak relationship between economic growth and changes in health and education" as well as life expectancy), and examines the relationship between the HDI and happiness, finding that (1) components of the HDI "correlate strongly with better life evaluations," and (2) there is a strong relationship between life evaluation and the "non-income HDI." It contemplates measurement of conditions of life beyond the HDI that are important to well-being: (1) better working conditions, (2) security against crime and physical violence, (3) participation in economic and political activities, (4) freedom and (5) inequality. The concludes with the statements that the HDI and SWB have similar approaches and importantly connected, with the two disciplines offering alternative and complementary views of development.
The 2015 World Happiness Report has eight chapters: (1) Setting the Stage, (2) The Geography of World Happiness, (3) How Does Subjective Well-being Vary Around the World by Gender and Age?, (4) How to Make Policy When Happiness is the Goal, (5) Neuroscience of Happiness, (6) Healthy Young Minds Transforming the Mental Health of Children, (7) Human Values, Civil Economy, and Subjective Well-being, and (8) Investing in Social Capital.
Chapter 1, Setting the Stage is written by John F. Helliwell, Richard Layard and Jeffrey Sachs. This chapter celebrates the success of the happiness movement (“Happiness is increasingly considered a proper means of social progress and public policy.”), citing the OECD Guidelines on Measuring Subjective Well-being, a referendum in the EU requiring member nations to measure happiness, and the success of the World Happiness reports (with readership at about 1.5 million), and the adoption of happiness by the government of the United Arab Emirates, and other areas. It sets an aspiration of the inclusion of subjective well-being into the 2015 Sustainable Development Goals (not fulfilled), and outlines the 2015 report. It also address the use of the term Happiness, identifying the cons (narrowness of the term, breath of the term, flakiness), and defining the use of the term for the reasons that the 2011 UN General Assembly Resolution 65/309 Happiness Towards A Holistic Approach to Development and April 2012 UN High Level Meeting: Well-being and Happiness: Defining a New Economic Paradigm, Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness  philosophy, the term’s “convening and attention attracting power,” and the asset in a “double usage of happiness” as an emotional report and life evaluation.
Chapter 2, The Geography of Happiness is written by John F. Helliwell, Hailing Huang and Shun Wang. This chapter reports the happiness of nations measured by life evaluations. It includes color coded maps and an analysis of six factors the account for the differences: (1) social support in terms of someone to count on in times of need, (2) GDP per capita (income), (3) live expectancy (in terms of healthy years), (4) sense of corruption in government and business (trust), (5) perceived freedom to make life decisions, and (6) generosity. The first three factors were found to have the biggest impact on a population’s happiness. Crisis (natural disasters and economic crisis) the quality of governance, and social support were found to be the key drivers for changes in national happiness levels, with the happiness of nations undergoing a crisis in which people have a strong sense of social support falling less than nations where people do not have a strong sense of social support.
Chapter 3, How Does Subjective Well-being Vary Around the Globe by Gender and Age? is written by Nicole Fortin, John F. Helliwell and Shun Wang. This chapter uses data for 12 experiences: happiness (the emotion), smiling or laughing, enjoyment, feeling safe at night, feeling well rested, and feeling interested, as well as anger, worry, sadness, depression, stress and pain to examine differences by gender and age. Findings reported include that there is not a lot of difference in life evaluations between men and women across nations or within ages in a nation (women have slightly higher life evaluations than men: 0.09 on a ten-point scale). It reports that overall happiness falls into a U shape with age on the x axis and happiness on the y, with the low point being middle age (45-50) for most nations (in some happiness does not go up much in later life, so the shape is more of a downhill slide), and that the U shape holds for feeling well rested in all regions. If finds that that men generally feel safer at night than women but, when comparing countries, people in Latin America have the lowest sense of safety at night, while people in East Asia and Western Europe have the highest sense of safety at night. It also finds that as women age their sense of happiness declines and stress increases but worry decreases, as all people age their laughter, enjoyment and finding something of interest also declines, that anger is felt everywhere almost equally by men and women, stress peaks in the Middle Ages, and women experience depression more than men. It finds that where older people are happier, there is a sense of social support, freedom to make life choices and generosity (and income does not factor in as heavily as these three factors).
Chapter 4, How to Make Policy When Happiness is the Goal is written by Richard Layard and Gus O’Donnell. This chapter advocates for a “new form of cost-benefit analysis” for government expenditures in which a “critical level of extra happiness” yielded by a project is established. It contemplates the prioritization of increasing happiness of the happy vs. reducing misery of the miserable, as well as the issues of discount rate (weight) for the happiness of future generations. It includes a technical annex with equations for calculating the maximization for happiness in public expenditure, tax policy, regulations, the distribution of happiness and a discount rate.
Chapter 5, Neuroscience of Happiness is written by Richard J. Dawson and Brianna S. Schuyler. This chapter reports on research in brain science and happiness, identifying four aspects that account for happiness: (1) sustained positive emotion, (2) recovery of negative emotion (resilience), (3) empathy, altruism and pro-social behavior, and (4) mindfulness (mind-wandering/affective sickness). It concludes that the brain’s elasticity indicates that one can change one’s sense of happiness and life satisfaction (separate but overlapping positive consequences) levels by experiencing and practicing mindfulness, kindness, and generosity; and calls for more research on these topics.
Chapter 6, Healthy Young Minds: Transforming the Mental Health of Children is written by Richard Layard and Ann Hagell. This chapter identifies emotional development as of primary importance, (compared to academic and behavioral factors) in a child’s development and determination of whether a child will be a happy and well-functioning adult. It then focuses on the issue of mental illness in children, citing the statistic that while worldwide 10% of the world's children (approximately 200 million) suffer from diagnosable mental health problems, even in the richest nations, only one quarter of these children of them are in treatment. It identifies the action steps to treating children with mental health problems: local community-lead child well-being programs, training health care professions to identify mental health problems in children, parity of esteem for mental and physical problems and treatment, access to evidence-based mental health treatment for families and children, promotion of well-being in schools with well-being codes that inform the organizational behavior of schools, training teachers to identify mental health in children, teachings of life skills, measuring of children’s well-being by schools, development of free apps available internationally to treat mental illness in teens, and inclusion of mental health with the goal of physical health in the Sustainable Development goals. The chapter lists the benefits of treating children’s mental health: improved educational performance, reduction in youth crimes, improved earnings and employment in adulthood, and better parenting of the next generation.
Chapter 7, Human Values, Civil Economy and Subjective Well-being is written by Leonardo Bechhetti, Luigino Bruni and Stefano Zamagni. This chapter begins with a critique of the field of economics ("Economics today looks like physics before the discovery of electrons"), identifying reductionism in which humans are conceived of as 100% self-interested individuals (economic reductionism), profit maximization is prioritized over all other interests (corporate reductionism), and societal values are narrowly identified with GDP and ignore environmental, cultural, spiritual and relational aspects (value reductionism). The chapter them focuses on a theoretical approach termed "Civil Economy paradigm", and research about it demonstrating that going beyond reductionism leads to greater socialization for people and communities, and a rise in priority of the values of reciprocity, friendship, trustworthiness, and benevolence. It makes the argument that positive social relationships (trust, benevolence, shared social identities) yield happiness and positive economic outcomes. It ends with recommendations for move from the dominant model of elite-competitive democracy to a participatory/deliberative model of democracy with bottom-up political and economic participation and incentives for non-selfish actions (altruistic people) and corporations with wider goals than pure profit (ethical and environmentally responsible corporations).
Chapter 8, Investing in Social Capital is written by Jeffrey Sachs. This chapter focuses on “pro-sociality” (“individuals making decisions for the common good that may conflict with short-run egoistic incentives”). It identifies pro-social behaviors: honesty, benevolence, cooperation and trustworthiness. It recommends investment in social capital through education, moral instruction, professional codes of conduct, public censure and condemnation of violators of public trust, and public policies to narrow income inequalities for countries where there is generalized distrust of government and business, pervasive corruption and lawless behavior (such as tax evasion).
The 2016 World Happiness Report -Rome Addition was issued in two parts as an update. Part one had four chapters: (1) Setting the Stage, (2) The Distribution of World Happiness, (3) Promoting Secular Ethics, and (4) Happiness and Sustainable Development: Concepts and Evidence. Part two has six chapters: (1) Inside the Life Satisfaction Blackbox, (2) Human Flourishing, the Common Good, and Catholic Social Teaching, (3) The Challenges of Public Happiness: An Historical-Methodological Reconstruction, (4) The Geography of Parenthood and Well-Being: Do Children Make Us Happy, Where and Why?, and (5) Multidimensional Well-Being in Contemporary Europe: An Analysis of the Use of a Self-Organizing Map Applied to Share Data.
Chapter 1, Setting the Stage is written by John F. Helliwell, Richard Layard, and Jeffrey Sachs. This chapter briefly surveys the happiness movement (“Increasingly, happiness is considered to be the proper measure of social progress and the goal of public policy.”) gives an overview of the 2016 reports and synopsis of both parts of the 2016 Update Rome Addition.
Chapter 2, The Distribution of World Happiness is written by John F. Helliwell, Hailing Huang, and Shun Wang. This chapter reports happiness levels of countries and proposes the use of inequalities of happiness among individuals as a better measure for inequality than income inequality, and that all people in a population fare better in terms of happiness when there is less inequality in happiness in their region. It includes data from the World Health Organization and World Development Indicators, as well as Gallup World Poll. It debunks the notion that people rapidly adapt to changes in life circumstances and quickly return to an initial life satisfaction baseline, finding instead that changes in life circumstances such as government policies, major life events (unemployment, major disability) and immigration change people’s baseline life satisfaction levels. This chapter also addresses the measure for affect (feelings), finding that positive affect (happiness, laughter, enjoyment) has much “large and highly significant impact” on life satisfaction than negative affect (worry, sadness, anger). The chapter also examines differences in happiness levels explained by the factors of (1) social support, (2) income, (3) healthy life, (4) trust in government and business, (5) perceived freedom to make life decisions and (6) generosity.
Chapter 3, Promoting Secular Ethics is written by Richard Layard, This chapter argues for a revival of an ethical life and world, harkening to times when religious organizations were a dominant force. It calls on secular non-profit organizations to promote “ethical living in a way that provides inspiration, uplift, joy and mutual respect”, and gives examples of implementation by a non-profit founded by Richard Layard, the chapter author, Action for Happiness, which offers online information from positive psychology and Buddhist teachings.
Chapter 4, Happiness and Sustainable Development: Concepts and Evidence is written by Jeffrey Sachs. This chapter identifies ways that sustainable development indicators (economic, social and environmental factors) can be used to explain variations in happiness. It concludes with a report about an appeal to include subjective well-being indicators into the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Part Two 2016 Special Rome Edition was edited by Jeffrey Sacks, Leonardo Becchetti and Anthony Arnett.
Chapter 1, Inside the Life Satisfaction Blackbox is written by Leonardo Becchetti, Luisa Carrado, and Paolo Sama. This chapter proposes using quality of life measurements (a broader range of variables that life evaluation) in lieu of or in addition to overall life evaluations in future World Happiness Reports.
Chapter 2, Human Flourishing, the Common Good, and Catholic Social Teaching is written by Anthony Annett. This chapter contains explanations for three theories: (1) It is human nature to broadly define happiness and understand the connection between happiness and the common good, (2) that the current understanding of individuality is stripped of ties to the common good, and (3) that there is a need to restore the common good as central value for society. The chapter also proposes Catholic school teachings as a model for restoring the common good as a dominant value.
Chapter 3, The Challenges of Public Happiness: An Historical-Methodological Reconstruction is written by Luigino Bruni and Stefano Zemagni. This chapter contemplates Aristotelian concepts of happiness and virtue as they pertain to and support the findings in the World Happiness Reports regarding the impact of social support, trust in government, and equality of happiness.
Chapter 4, The Geography of Parenthood and Well-Being. Do Children Make Us Happy, Where and Why? is written by Luca Stanca. This chapter examines other research findings that children do not add happiness to parents. Using data from the World Values Survey, it finds that, with the exception of widowed parents, having children has a negative effect on life satisfaction for parents in 2/3 of the 105 countries studied, with parents in richer countries suffering more. Once parents are old, life satisfaction increases. The chapter concludes that “existing evidence is not conclusive” and a statement that the causes for the low life satisfaction levels may be that for richer countries, having children is valued less, and in poorer countries, people suffer in financial and time costs when they have children.
Chapter 5, Multidimensional Well-Being in Contemporary Europe: Analysis of the Use of Self-Organizing Map Allied to SHARE Data is written by Mario Lucchini, Luca Crivelli  and Sara della Bella. This chapter contains a study of well-being data from older European adults. It finds that this chapter’s study results were consistent with the World Happiness Report 2016 update: positive affect (feelings) have a stronger impact on a person’s satisfaction with life than do negative affect (feelings).
The 2017 World Happiness Report has seven chapters: (1) Overview, (2) Social Foundations of World Happiness, (3) Growth and Happiness in China, 1990-2015, (4) ‘Waiting for Happiness’ in Africa, (5) The Key Determinants of Happiness and Misery, (6) Happiness at Work, and (7) Restoring American Happiness.
Chapter 1, Overview is written by John F. Helliwell, Richard Layard and Jeffrey Sachs. The chapter gives an overview of the report and celebrates the progress of the happiness movement, citing the OECD’s commitment “to redefine the growth narrative to put people’s well-being at the centre of governments’ efforts,” and events including the UAE’s Dialogue on Global Happiness (part of the 2017 World Government Summit) and other meetings and conferences. It confirms future World Happiness Reports, with 2018 focusing on migration and giving thanks to the support of Ernesto Illy Foundation.
Chapter 2, Social Foundations of World Happiness is written by John F. Helliwell, Hailing Huang, and Shun Wang. This chapter gives an overview, or primer, on how happiness is measured in World Happiness Reports (use of the Cantril Ladder to measure satisfaction with life, and measurements six variables to understand changes in satisfaction with life: social support, income, healthy life expectancy, trust in government and business, perceived freedom to make life decisions, and generosity. The chapter include a rationale for the approach (“that life evaluations vary more than emotions across countries and that life evaluations are “much more fully explained by life circumstances than emotional reports”) and explains why the World Happiness Reports do not use an index (composite indicators): (1) A Satisfaction with Life measurement captures “the evaluation people make of their own lives,” (2) life evaluation data is new knowledge and it can be used to identify what “supports better lives,” (3) the data comes from populations in each country so it represents the people of that country, (4) the data does not depend on an index-maker’s opinion on what is important, but does reflect what people’s own evaluation of their lives. The chapter gives rankings for countries happiness levels with graphs and explanations about trends and changes in ranking levels. Analysis of role affect (feelings) plays is consistent with prior World Happiness Reports: positive affect contributes to satisfaction with life more than negative affect, and the six factors, while explaining changes in satisfaction with life, do not fully explain changes in affect. The chapter concludes with findings that social and institutional factors (having someone to count on in difficult times, donating, trust in government and business, freedom to make life choices) factors are “together responsible for more than half of the average difference between each country’s predicted” satisfaction with life score and that social factors are 16 times more impactful than increasing income in the poorest nations, and that satisfaction with life scores would increase by two points (1.97; composed of someone to count on in times of trouble accounting at1.19, freedom to make life choices at 0.41, generosity at 0.25 and trust at 0.12 ) on a scale of 0-10 if social foundation effects were increased in the lowest ranking countries, with examples of Greece, where social support was low and life satisfactions scores continue to fall (“third biggest happiness looser”) after the economic crisis of 2007, and of Iceland, where social support was high and life satisfaction scores increased after the economic crisis enough to put it as the third happiest country in the years 2014-2016.
Chapter 3, Growth and Happiness in China, 1990-2015 is written by Richard A. Easterlin, Fei Wang, and Shun Wang. This chapter analyzes the trends and causes of increased income levels and decreased subjective well-being in China in the last 25 years where GDP increased 5-fold in the last 25 years, while subjective well-being has been on the decline for the last 15 years, with current levels lower than they were 15 years ago, even with an upward trend since 2005, albeit the lowest income segment of the populations suffered much more than the highest income segment and people with a college education “largely escaped the adverse impact on life satisfaction of economic restructuring.” Data is sourced from the World Values Survey, Gallup, Horizon Research Consultancy Group, and Chinese Social Survey. The chapter uses data to analyzes outcomes of policy decisions to promote large corporations at the expense of small enterprises, yielding output growth at the expense of high unemployment. Analysis of data suggests that unemployment, diminishment in social safety nets (unemployment benefits, health care, pensions, having someone to count on in times of trouble, etc.), and rises in material aspirations explain the overall decline in happiness levels in China, and that of these factors, the ones that matter most are those that people “think they have, or should have, some ability to control": income security, family life, the health of oneself and one’s family.
Chapter 4, ‘Waiting for Happiness’ in Africa, is written by Valerie Møller, Benjamin Roberts, Habib Tilouine, and Jay Loschky. This chapter analyzes the reasons for the low scores in satisfaction with life and life conditions in the 54 nations that are in Africa, where historically and currently, most African countries scores dominate the bottom of the charts (and scoring 5 or below). Data sources are the Afrobarometer, Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG), the Arab Barometer, Children’s World, and Gallup. The chapter discusses data collection issues, ranging from cultural context to access to populations. It includes an analysis of good governance and happiness, identifying a lasting sense of unmet expectations for changes in the conditions of life that were expected to emerge after liberation from colonial and authoritarian rule as partly explaining low life satisfaction scores as well as an unmet demand for civil liberties, especially freedom of speech. Data analyzed also revealed that while satisfaction with democracy is “weakly positively associated with happiness…a ‘democratic deficit’…depresses levels of happiness,” and that in the nation of South Africa there is a willingness to give up regular election for a secure sense of law and order, indicating a trend for the resurgence of authoritarian regimes. Findings about of the role of corruption and happiness include that “happiness improved markedly…where citizens saw a reduction in corruption at the top level of leadership and stronger government performance in fighting corruption. It examines the impact of changes in lived poverty, finding that freedom from deprivations in many of the countries in Africa has been accomplished and accounts for increases in happiness scores of about 0.6 percent in some nations. It examines infrastructure and finds that 93% of people in Africa have cell phone service, while only 30% have access to sewage treatment and 65% live in communities with access to an electrical grid, with people in North Africa enjoying more infrastructure benefits than in South Africa, and a positive association between the state of infrastructure and happiness. The chapter includes analysis of African youth, suggesting that IT-connection (cell phones), expectations higher standards of living, and “exceptional” high levels of optimism can serve as a “self-fulfilling prophecy for the continent,” giving Arab Spring and the migration of Africans looking for work overseas as evidence, and identifying the need for employment in all countries in Africa.
Chapter 5, The Key Determinants of Happiness and Misery, is written by Andrew Clark, Sara Flèche, Richard Layard, Nattavudh Powdhavee and George Ward. This chapter analyzes the causes for happiness and misery in the United States, Australia, Great Britain and Indonesia, measured by economic (income and employment ), social (education and partnership/marriage) and health (mental and physical) variables stemming from one’s immediate influences (what is happening now in one’s life) and distant influences (one’s past: one’s childhood, schooling and family of origin). The chapter proposes a definition of misery that is a below a certain level of life satisfaction and identifies the factors that causes misery: mental illness (depression and anxiety disorders), physical illness, poverty, low education, unemployment, and living alone, with mental illness being the key factor in Western countries. The chapter includes a section on crime and behavior, stating “it is well known that how others behave is a major influence on our own happiness” and research that indicates that “education has a major benefit through resolving reduction” of crime committed by a person, which increases happiness levels overall as “crime rates on average reduces life satisfaction of (a) local population…” Analysis of child development indicates that the emotional health and behavior (mental health) of a child are better predictors of an adult’s happiness than academic performance, and that the mental health of the mother and the effect of schools and teachers (“which school a child went to...predicts as much of how the child develops as [parenting]”) are the best predictors of a child’s mental health. It concludes with an appeal to policy makers to “know the causes of happiness and misery."
Chapter 6, Happiness at Work, is written by Jan-Emmanuel De Neve and George Ward. This chapter focuses on the roles employment, job type, and workplace environment play on subjective well-being, using “the terms happiness and well-being interchangeably.” Data is sourced from Gallup, the European Social Survey and the German Socio-Economic Panel. Research findings include that worldwide, the employed are happier (have higher life satisfaction scores). In contrast, for the unemployed, happiness levels do not adapt significantly over time, they experience more stress and worry, and that a series of employment experiences can scar a person, leaving a lasting negative impact on a person’s happiness levels as well as a nation’s well-being levels (these are some of the “damaging effects of joblessness”). Men suffer more from unemployment women, although both suffer. Moreover, research findings indicate that rising unemployment levels has a negative impact on everyone, even the employed. It finds that those who opt to work part-time by choice have higher life satisfaction scores and fewer negative experiences (stress, worry). The chapter analysis of types of employment finds that management and professional workers have higher levels of life satisfaction and more positive experiences (smiling, laughing, enjoyment, feeling well-rested) than manual labor jobs, but that “job fit” is highly individual, whereby each person is best suited and will flourish in a job that best suits her or him. The chapter examines work quality with a focus on the factors of a work environment, finding that happiness with a job is based on feeling that on well-paid, work-life balance, autonomy, variety, job security, opportunities for advancement and promotion, social capital (seeing one’s boss as a partner or collaborator instead of an authoritarian entity or “the boss”), healthy and safe workplace; and unhappiness is based on factors including where one works, whether one combines work activities with other activities, and whether one works alone or in the company of others.
Chapter 7, Restoring American Happiness is written by Jeffrey Sachs. This chapter analyzes the historical happiness of the United States, based upon the Cantril ladder as a measure for life satisfaction and the six variables contemplated in World Happiness Reports. Data is analyzed to demonstrate that a “growth-only agenda is doubly wrong headed” citing the national government's agenda to use economic growth to heal the deepening divide amongst Americans. Data is used to demonstrates that in the United States, while income and healthy life expectancy are increasing, social support (having someone to count on in times of need), a sense of personal freedom to make decisions, generosity (giving donations), and trust in government and business (perception of corruption) are getting worse, and that the data demonstrates it is more efficient and effective to invest in social capital to increase people’s happiness and well-being than increasing GDP. It identifies five trends contributing to the decline of social capital in the U.S.: (1) corporate campaign financing (“the rise of mega-dollars in U.S. politics”) due to the Citizens United decision, (2) income inequality (“soaring income and wealth inequality” exacerbated by “big money in politics”), (3) decline in social trust, related to immigration surge and economic and ethnic segregation, (4) Post 9/11 reaction to stoke fear rather and “us vs. them” dualism among Amerind and between nations, engaging in wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen and other nations, misleading of citizens about international government activities, lowering the burden for officers to conduct frisking searches, and conducting other activities in the name of homeland security, and (5) the deterioration of the education system and decline in youth gaining a college education, in part due to the putting the market in charge of higher education costs and rolling back student financial aid. The chapter suggests reforms of (1) campaign finance reform including correction of the U.S. Supreme Court Citizens United decision, (2) policies to reduce income and wealth inequality including social safety nets, wealth taxes, public financing of health and education, (3) multi-culturalism through improved social relations between citizens born in the U.S. and immigrant populations, (4) improve access, quality and attainment of education.
Data is collected from people in over 150 countries. Each variable measured reveals a populated-weighted average score on a scale running from 0 to 10 that is tracked over time and compared against other countries. These variables currently include: real GDP per capita, social support, healthy life expectancy, freedom to make life choices, generosity, and perceptions of corruption. Each country is also compared against a hypothetical nation called Dystopia. Dystopia represents the lowest national averages for each key variable and is, along with residual error, used as a regression benchmark.
The 2017 report features the happiness score averaged over the years 2014-2016. For that timespan, Norway is the overall happiest country in the world, even though oil prices have dropped. Close behind are Denmark, Iceland and Switzerland in a tight pack. All the top ten countries have high scores in the six categories. The ranked follow-on countries in the top ten are: Finland, the Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and Sweden.
Table of data for 2017.
|Overall Rank||Change in rank||Country||Score||Change in score||GDP per capita||Social support||Healthy life expectancy||Freedom to make life choices||Generosity||Trust||Residual|
|21||7||United Arab Emirates||6.648||0.075||1.626||1.266||0.727||0.608||0.361||0.324||1.735|
|38||5||Trinidad and Tobago||6.168||0.000||1.361||1.380||0.520||0.519||0.325||0.009||2.053|
|90||-3||Bosnia and Herzegovina||5.182||0.019||0.982||1.069||0.705||0.204||0.329||0.000||1.892|
|155||NA||Central African Republic||2.693||NA||0.000||0.000||0.019||0.271||0.281||0.057||2.066|
Explained by: GDP per capita
Explained by: Social support
Explained by: Healthy life expectancy
Explained by: Freedom to make life choices
Explained by: Generosity
|GDP per capita||Social support||Healthy life expectancy||Freedom to make life choices||Generosity||Trust|
|28||United Arab Emirates||6.573||-0.161|
|43||Trinidad and Tobago||6.168||0.336|
|77||Kosovo [Note 3]||5.401||0.298|
|83||People's Republic of China||5.245||0.525|
|87||Bosnia and Herzegovina||5.163||0.263|
|108||Palestinian Territories[Note 4]||4.754||0.321|
|125||Republic of the Congo||4.272||0.000|
|127||Democratic Republic of the Congo||4.236||0.000|