Why are people in some Countries happier than others?

Hidoc brings to you the Summary from the World Happiness Report 2017 (Read More here) about the reasons why people in some countries are happier than others.

The report mentions 6 parameters (variables) for good happiness that include:

  1. GDP Per Capita
  2. Social Support
  3. Healthy Life Expectancy
  4. Freedom to Make Life Choices
  5. Generosity
  6. Freedom from Corruption

Let’s us explore each of the choices and understand what characteristics promote these factors and the characteristics that demote these factors.

GDP Per Capita

More money helps, but does not go a long way. Countries such as Mexico are found to be happier than the United States even with lower (less than half) GDP per capita. However, GDP per capita is more of a negative than a positive factor. In other words, countries that have lower GDP per capita tend to much more un-happier. Countries with the highest GDP Per Capita are Singapore, Luxemburg, Qatar, Kuwait, Norway and UAE. Other than Norway, none of these countries rank among the Top 5, happiest countries in the world.

Social Support

Social Support refers to support from the society in the form of support from friends and family. It’s is the most important factor uplifting happiness. A country with 10% of its population to count on has a much more higher happiness level compared to countries that do not have someone to count on. Social support can be influenced or improved by emotional support, social integration, and supportive friendships.

In all situations, Social Support has the same positive and negative effect. Countries that rank the highest in social support such as Iceland, Ireland, New Zealand, Uzbekistan and Denmark also have the highest happiness levels (Denmark, Iceland and Ireland).

Freedom to Make Life Choices

The ability to make free choices about both personal and professional life are responsible for the freedom to make choices for the individual public. The freedom to make choices is tightly coupled with Social Support. Countries that rank higher in the world happiness ranking have high levels of social support as well as a higher level of freedom to make choices. Countries that rank high in the Freedom to Make Life Choices are Uzbekistan, Norway, Cambodia, Iceland and Denmark.

Healthy Life Expectancy

Life expectancy in terms of illness and death is increased due to economic status, primary income, education and job status. Additionally, access to healthcare, better health behaviours and better nutrition improve life expectancy. Moreover, addressing issues related to inequalities of income and education assists in increasing life expectancy. Positive life expectancy has a positive correlation with higher happiness compared to a negative correlation. Countries with the highest Healthy life expectancy are Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Spain and Switzerland.

Freedom from Corruption

Trust has been an important factor when it comes to freedom from corruption. Trust removes barriers and assists to deal with issues beyond regular contracts. Along with Social Trust, belief in Local Police is shown to have a huge effect in judging Social Happiness. Other factors such as trust in judicial system, trust in parliament and trust in politicians have shown to have an effect leading to higher happiness levels. Happiness has been reported to be much happier in countries in which corruption is less and government quality is higher.

Generosity

Happiness levels have found to be higher for givers than receivers when it comes to Generosity. Generosity has been shown to be a form of pro-social behaviour. People involved in pro-social activities have been known to be happier compared to people not involved in such behaviour. Countries that have the highest level of Generosity are surprisingly not developed but in many cases emerging or under developed countries. These countries are Myanmar, Indonesia, Malta, Thailand and New Zealand.

Positive influences in all six parameters have a much stronger effect on live evaluations than negative parameters. Therefore, it is essential to have more positive influences in the six parameters.

In summary, the most important factor influencing happiness is attributed to Social Support. The thread that ties communities to a social fabric in times of need and help is what is the leading indicator to influence happiness levels.

As the world and India especially urbanises the focus on communities dwindles. Therefore, it is recommended in isolation no factor (not even higher income) influences happiness as much as the combination of all six factors led by Social Support does.