BEIRUT: Placing at 88th in the World Happiness Report 2017 released Monday, Lebanon is neither giddy with happiness or sunk in misery such as in Sub-Saharan African.
All things considered, as in last year's report, Lebanon is a happy enough place, based on the six-point criterion used by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), an independent UN initiative.
The latest World Happiness Report, which ranks 155 countries by their happiness levels, was released at the United Nations at an event celebrating International Day of Happiness.
The report, the fifth one to come out since 2012, has been gaining greater global recognition as governments, organizations and civil society increasingly use happiness indicators to inform their policy-making decisions. In addition to the rankings, this year's report includes an analysis of happiness in the workplace and a deeper look at China and Africa.
"The World Happiness Report continues to draw global attention around the need to create sound policy for what matters most to people -- their well-being," said Jeffrey Sachs, the report's co-editor and director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, in a statement.
"As demonstrated by many countries, this report gives evidence that happiness is a result of creating strong social foundations. It's time to build social trust and healthy lives, not guns or walls. Let's hold our leaders to this fact" Sachs added.
Norway ranked as the happiest country, jumping three spots from last year and displacing Denmark, which had held the top spot for three out of the past four years. Rounding out the rest of the top ten in order are Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, Finland, Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and Sweden. The U.S. ranked 14th dropping down one spot from last year, reported the SDSN.
Despite recent declines in oil prices, oil-rich Norway still moved into the top spot, illustrating once more that high happiness depends on much more than income, the agency added.
Lebanon at 88th was closely followed by: 89th Portugal (5.195), 90th Bosnia and Herzegovina (5.182), 91st Honduras (5.181), 92nd Macedonia (5.175),b93rd. Somalia (5.151) and at 94th Vietnam (5.074).
Last year Lebanon was at 93rd place, thus moving up five spots.
The rankings are based on income, life expectancy figures, generosity, along with how people rate their social support network, personal freedom and freedom from government corruption. These measures computed together generate a happiness scale from 1 to 10.
The Happiest Countries
1. Norway 7.54
2. Denmark 7.52
3. Iceland 7.5
4. Switzerland 7.49
5. Finland 7.47
6. Netherlands 7.38
7. Canada 7.32
8. New Zealand 7.32
9. Australia 7.28
10. Sweden 7.28
The Saddest Countries
146. Yemen 3.59
147. South Sudan 3.59
148. Liberia 3.53
149. Guinea 3.51
150. Togo 3.49
151. Rwanda 3.47
152. Syria 3.46
153. Tanzania 3.35
154. Burundi 2.91
155. Central African Republic 2.69
This year, the World Happiness Report gave special attention to the social foundations of happiness, including particularly happiness in the workplace.
"People tend to spend the majority of their lives working, so it is important to understand the role that employment and unemployment play in shaping happiness," said professor Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, Saïd Business School, University of Oxford, a co-editor of the report.
There was a small uproar on gloabl social media, such as the twitterverse, that releasing a "Happiness" index on a Monday was perhaps not the best time – but then when is? Perhaps Friday night.
In the case of Lebanon, amid the factors the create happiness, such as close family bonds and the personal generosity of Lebanon's citizens, there remains the nagging question of profound dissatisfaction with the government.
This week has seen ongoing protest over tax increases that civil-society groups and economists note that the average Lebanese can ill-afford to pay during a time of slow economic growth.
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