2.10 ndian onom
the war-ravaged Afghanistan that is at drag of 10 to 25 per cent (due to legacy
145th)—Pakistan at 75th (up five spots factors). Meanwhile, the greatest human
from last year), Nepal at 101st, Bhutan at migration in history—the hundreds of
97th, Bangladesh at 115th, Sri Lanka at millions of people who have moved from
116th and China at 86th spot. the Chinese countryside into cities—has
Finland has got several accolades from not advanced happiness at all.
the report as—the most stable, the safest The report ends on a different tack, with
and best governed country in the world a focus on three emerging health problems that
together with being the least corrupt and threaten happiness—obesity, the opioid crisis, and
the most socially progressive and the happiest depression. Although set in a global context, most
immigrants. Its police are the world’s most of the evidence and discussion are focused on the
trusted and its banks the soundest. These USA, where the prevalence of all three problems
are the achievements of a country (with has been growing faster and further than in most
5.5 million population) which faced the other countries.
last naturally caused famine just 150 years
back. the meAning of hAPPiness
The report devotes a special chapter to The word ‘happiness’ is quite complex and is not
why the USA, ranked 18th (down four used lightly. Happiness is an aspiration of every
ranks from the last report), once towards human being, and can also be a measure of social
the top of happiness table, has slipped progress. Yet, are the citizens of different countries,
down the league despite having among happy? If they are not, what, if anything, can be
the highest per capita incomes. As per the done about it? The key to proper measurement
report, its happiness is being systematically must begin with the meaning of the word ‘happiness’.
undermined by three inter-related As per the WHR 2013, the problem, of course, is
epidemic diseases—obesity, substance that happiness is used in at least two ways :
abuse (especially opioid addiction) and (i) As an emotion [‘Were you happy
depression. yesterday?’], and
Latin America is renowned for (ii) As an evaluation [‘Are you happy with
corruption, high violence and crime your life as a whole?’].
rates, unequal distribution of income and If individuals were to routinely mix up their
widespread poverty, yet has consistently responses to these very different questions, then
scored relatively high in the happiness measures of happiness might tell us very little.
report. The report attributes this to ‘the Changes in reported happiness used to track social
abundance of family warmth and other progress would perhaps reflect little more than
supportive social relationships frequently transient changes in emotion. Or impoverished
side-lined in favour of an emphasis on persons who express happiness in terms of
income measures in the development emotion might inadvertently diminish society’s
discourse’. will to fight poverty. Fortunately, respondents
For the first time the report has included to the happiness surveys do not tend to make
the happiness of immigrants (in 117 such confusing mistakes. Both the WHRs did
countries)—their happiness depends on show that the respondents of the surveys clearly
the happiness of the place where they recognise the difference between happiness as an
migrated to (the host country)—with a emotion and happiness in the sense of life satisfaction.