Daily Archives: September 13, 2013


How happy are we?

According to the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network’s 2013 World Happiness Report, Northern Europe is the happiest place on earth. Sorry, Disneyland. Sorry as well, Bhutan. And to that pizza shop on the riverside in Phnom Penh, where one can get pizza in varying degrees of “happiness”. *wink-wink*

“The findings above were calculated by looking at the state of well-being in 156 nations across the globe, using analysis from experts in economics, psychology, survey analysis, and national statistics to make a case for why well-being should be considered a measure of national development. Happiness isn’t only beneficial for individual mental and physical health and corporate bottom lines — it may also contribute to the progress and development of entire nations, according to the authors of the report.”

Among our ASEAN neighbors, Singapore is top at #30, followed by Thailand (#36), Malaysia (#56), and Vietnam (#63). We are at #92, behind Indonesia (#76) and ahead of Laos (#109), Burma (#121), and Cambodia (#140). I couldn’t find Brunei when I read the list. Not sure why.

Happiness to me is a fascinating thing to measure because it is largely subjective. I marvel at the steps taken by the researchers who did this study in terms of quantifying and measuring happiness not just an emotion but also as an evaluation of one’s life. The report said that the study “assembled the available international happiness data on how people rate both their emotions and their lives as a whole”. Furthermore, the measures were divided into 3 types: (1) measures of positive emotions (positive affect) including happiness, usually asked about the day preceding the survey; (2) measures of negative emotions (negative affect) again asked about the preceding day; and (3) evaluations of life as a whole.

Comparing the level of happiness of our country from 2005-2007 to 2010-2012, there was a little increase of 0.131%. Our ASEAN neighbors whose happiness levels increased were Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Singapore,, Malaysia, Laos, and Burma experienced a decrease.

While the measurements of happiness in the study were fairly systematic and scientific, the report didn’t delve into the possible reasons for the trends and changes in the levels of happiness per country. It opted to do so regionally, which was the more manageable thing to do. Reading the report, you can draw your own conclusions.

So how happy are we, really?


There’s an interesting infographic on the report HERE.