BY RICHARD BROWNE—
As the world celebrated the International Day of Happiness on Monday, it was revealed that the level of happiness fell in Jamaica over the 2014-2016 period, according to the United Nations’ World Happiness Report 2017.
Jamaica now ranks 76th out of 155 listed countries, between the eastern European nations of Hungary at 75 and Croatia at 77.
The country has slipped three spaces since the 2013-2015 period, when Jamaica ranked 73rd in happiness.
Meanwhile, the happiest country on Earth is now Norway, with last year’s highest scorer, Denmark now second, and Iceland third.
“Happiness is increasingly considered the proper measure of social progress and the goal of public policy,” acording to the 2017 report. The report considers happiness in each country to be affected by the two most important variables of GDP per capita and healthy life expectancy, as well as social support, social freedom, generosity, and absence of corruption.
Within the Caribbean region, Jamaica’s level of happiness was below Costa Rica (12), Panama (30), Trinidad and Tobago (38) and Belize (50).
But the country was happier than Venezuela at 82, and the nearby island of Hispaniola, with the Dominican Republic ranking 86th and Haiti 145th. Several other regional countries such as Guyana, Suriname and Barbados were not included.
Meanwhile, Canada ranked 7th in global happiness, the United States 14th and the United Kingdom 19th.
Further afield, Israel ranked as the 11th happiest country, Singapore ranked 26th, war-torn Libya 68th, China just below Jamaica at 79th, Nigeria 95th, South Africa 101st, India 122nd and Ghana 131st.
Overall, Jamaica has seen one of the greatest falls in happiness since 2007 — the year before the 2008 global recession — according to the index.
The extent of the country’s change in happiness ranked it among the bottom 10 countries – at 121 out of 126 — between two countries currently at war, Yemen at 120 and Ukraine at 122.
Countries with even greater declines than Jamaica included Botswana (123), Greece (124), the Central African Republic (125) and Venezuela last at 126.
Conversely, the countries which saw the largest increases in happiness were Nicaragua (first), Latvia (second) and Sierra Leone (third).