Insights into the WORLD HAPPINESS REPORT 2016

A little perspective on the World Happiness Report according to Wikipedia on March 20, 2016:

The World Happiness Report is a measure of happiness published by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network.

In July 2011, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution inviting member countries to measure the happiness of their people and to use this to help guide their public policies. On April 2, 2012, this was followed by the first UN High Level Meeting on “Happiness and Well-Being: Defining a New Economic Paradigm,” which was chaired by Prime Minister Jigme Thinley of Bhutan, the first and so far only country to have officially adopted gross national happiness instead of gross domestic product as their main development indicator.[1]

The first World Happiness Report was released on April 1, 2012 as a foundational text for the meeting. It drew international attention as the world’s first global happiness survey.[2] The report outlined the state of world happiness, causes of happiness and misery, and policy implications highlighted by case studies. In September 2013 the second World Happiness Report offered the first annual follow-up and reports are now issued every year.[3] The report uses data from theGallup World Poll. Each annual report is available to the public on the World Happiness Report website.

In the reports, leading experts in several fields–economics, psychology, survey analysis, national statistics, and more–describe how measurements of well-being can be used effectively to assess the progress of nations. Each report is organized by chapters that delves deeper into issues relating to happiness, including mental illness, the objective benefits of happiness, the importance of ethics, policy implications, and links with the OECD’s approach to measuring subjective well-being and the Human Development Report.


Is it surprising Brazil is ranked 17th, one behind Germany? With the Zika virus, World Cup corruption and high crime, I would think they’d be ranked much lower. I’m also surprised to see they have a positive increase from last year.

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                                Happiness Ranking from

Even if some U.S. corporations are moving to Ireland for financial reasons, Ireland is trending downward, .238 decreases from last year and just making the top 20, squeezing in at number 19.

If you look at the top 10, how many of these have a very high literacy rate? How much is public education valued in these countries? In addition, how many of these countries have high tax rate compared with the tax rate of the US? What inferences can be drawn here once curiosity helps dig deeper with these highly ranked countries?

I believe Puerto Rico (rich port) and Costa Rica (rich coast) are the only Spanish speaking nations in the top 20.

China is ranked 83rd. Even with their tremendous building and growing economy, their rank is in the middle of all countries. However, they increased by .525 over last year. At this current rate, which some may argue may not be sustainable; they could overtake Denmark as the top ranked country in 5 or 6 years.

France is ranked 32nd in this latest study. Many of the other Westernized European countries located in the central or northern areas are within the top 20. Not sure if anything can be extrapolated from this? 

Israel ranked number 11th. One reads Israel can be a very stressful place to live. However, it appears both of these things could occur at the same time, stress and happiness. Maybe they are stressfully happy or overall happy and yet at times, stressful.

At the risk of being obvious, the first thing I notice after seeing where USA is ranked is how many European countries are ranked in the top 10. After that, I see where these highly ranked countries occur geographically. Are they in the north, exclusively? On the other hand, central Europe? In Central and Southern Europe? Is if there’s a big percentage difference between number 1 and 10 on this index?

If you look at some of the European countries to the south of Europe, what do you see? First, Italy is ranked 50th. I wonder if that’s a surprise with their la Dolce Vita reputation. In addition, Italy has the highest life expectancy in Europe so what gives? Spain is 37th but trending down by a significant margin of .711. Greece might be temporarily content with being included in the top 100, coming in at 99th is the good news compared to the downward trend of -1.294  — the highest negative of all 157 countries ranked. I would not brag about that. Some may say: It’s the economy stupid. One other European country to mention near Spain is Portugal, ranked at 94th. Another country trending downward. In fact, all of these four countries located in the south of Europe are trending downward. At least when they complain about life, or the lack of jobs, they can do it for the most part in the sunshine.

Of the top 10, 7 are located in Europe. Of those non-European countries, these three country’s primary language is English and two of these are among the largest area masses in the world: Canada and Australia.

Getting back to Puerto Rico, even with their recent financial crisis, they are ranked in the top 20, and are trending upward at .446.

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                               Happiness Ranking from

I was also intrigued on how well the former Soviet Bloc (FSB) countries did within this Happiness Index. The Czech Republic is the highest ranked country at 27th and formerly was united with Slovakia, which came in at 45th. Those two were the highest ranked FSB countries. Poland came in at 57, Lithuania at 60, followed by Belarus, and Latvia at 68. Estonia and Romania were in this range too. Hungary is ranked at 91st, which was not even the lowest FSB country. Ukraine trending downward placed 123rd and Bulgaria was the lowest ranked FSB country at 129th. I do not remember the last positive thing I’ve heard about Bulgaria besides their strong weight lifters in the Olympics years ago.

Of the former Yugoslavia regions or states, they are generally ranked in the same range. Besides Slovenia (bordering Austria to the north), at 63, you have Croatia at 74, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro ranking 86, 87, and 88 respectively. Macedonia is at 95 but trending in a positive direction (.627). One may argue with the majority of FSB countries and former Yugoslavia regions are ranked similarly in the Happiness Report.

One more thing, people may argue that Denmark doesn’t deserve to be number 1 or questions why New Zealand or Australia is ranked in the top 10. One could quibble about the exact ranking of certain countries. However, regardless of where these highly ranked countries lie, there has to be more than a kernel of truth about their level of happiness. Perhaps Denmark should be number 5 or 8 or Australia number 13. Of course, you could go around and around on exactly which countries belong in the top 10 or 20 in this index. One will quickly realize this isn’t a fluke on generally where these top ranked countries reside. If you’re among the top 10, or top 10% of all countries within this index, there must be several legitimate and tangible reasons why this is the case.



Kevin Schwarm

I have over 25 years of professional experience in business, information technology (IT), and customer service. Industry experience in retail, medical insurance, higher education, non-profit, financial services, and property and casualty insurance. Customer focused professional interested in providing value (save time, money and aggravation) by evaluating and analyzing information, services and products with a unique perspective.

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