Ranked the most equal society

Happiness: Bhutan may be known as the happiest country in the world, but according to a UN happiness report, it is ranked 84 out of 157 countries around the world.

Roughly 3,000 respondents in each country including Bhutan were asked to evaluate their current lives on a scale where 0 represents the worst possible life and 10, the best possible. Bhutanese complained about their quality of life.

Overall, Bhutan scored 5.196 in the “happy index”. The happiest country in the world, Denmark scored 7.526 points.

The report was released yesterday in Rome by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network for the United Nations.

The report comes days ahead of World Happiness Day on March 20.

Bhutan tops the “equality index” with 1.294 points, which means Bhutan is world’s most equal society.

The first World Happiness Report was published in April 2012, in support of the High Level Meeting at the United Nations on happiness and well-being. “Since then, we have come a long way. Increasingly, happiness is considered to be the proper measure of social progress and the goal of public policy,” the report states.

Among the South Asian countries, Bhutan is the happiest country followed by Pakistan (92), Nepal (107), Bangladesh (110), Sri Lanka (117) India (118) and Afghanistan (154).

People who live in the happiest countries have longer life expectancies, more social support and more freedom to make life choices.  They have lower corruption incidences and experience more generosity and have a higher gross domestic product per capita.

Only two regions—the Middle East and North Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean— have more unequally distributed happiness.

Differences in social support, incomes and healthy life expectancy are the three most important factors taken for the ranking. “The main innovation in the World Happiness Report Update 2016 is our focus on inequality,” the report states.

According to the report, the year 2015 was a watershed for humanity with the adoption of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by heads of state at a special summit at the United Nations in September 2015, on the 70th anniversary of the UN. Sustainable development is a holistic approach to well-being that calls on societies to pursue economic, social, and environmental objectives in an integrated manner.

The report states many countries in recent years have achieved economic growth at the cost of sharply rising inequality, entrenched social exclusion, and grave damage to the natural environment.

Denmark knocked Switzerland into second place. Denmark and Switzerland were closely followed by Iceland, Norway and Switzerland.

The lowest ranked country included in the survey is Burundi in Africa.

MB Subba