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India Drops on Happiness Index


Indians seem to be increasingly becoming unhappy as the country dropped by one notch in the World Happiness Report 2016 as compared to 2015 when it ranked 117 in the list of 157 countries. This year’s update has put India at 118th rank with 4.404 points on a scale of 0-10 where happier people have more points. India ranks below Ethiopia, Cameroon, Bangladesh, Sierra Leone, and Palestine. Pakistan at rank 92 is much ahead of India. The top 10 happiest countries are: Denmark, Switzerland, Iceland, Norway, Finland, Canada, Netherlands, New Zealand, Australia and Sweden. The ten 'unhappiest' countries are: Burundi, Syria, Togo, Afghanistan, Benin, Rwanda, Guinea, Liberia, Tanzania and Madagascar. The report makes primary use of people’s own reports of the quality of their lives, as measured on a scale with 10 representing the best possible life and 0 the worst.

Their reports were averaged for the years 2013 to 2015 based on a typical national sample size of 3,000. This data was then ranked for 157 countries. In the top 10 countries, life evaluations average 7.4 on the 0 to 10 scale, while for the bottom 10 the average is less than half that, at 3.4. The lowest countries are typically marked by low values on all of the six variables used here to explain international differences – GDP per capita, healthy life expectancy, social support, freedom, generosity and absence of corruption – and often subject in addition to violence and disease. Of the 4-point gap between the 10 top and 10 bottom countries, more than three-quarters is accounted for by differences in the six variables, with GDP per capita, social support and healthy life expectancy the largest contributors. For the Commonwealth of Independent States, the gains arise from improvements in all six variables.

For Western Europe, meanwhile, expected gains from improvements in healthy life expectancy and corruption combined with no GDP growth and declines in the other three variables to explain more than half of the actual change of 0.23 points. The largest regional drop (-0.6 points) was in South Asia, in which India has by far the largest population share, and is unexplained by the model, which shows an expected gain based on improvements in five of the six variables, offset by a drop in social support. The report gives new attention to the inequality of happiness across individuals. The distribution of world happiness is presented first by global and regional charts showing the distribution of answers, from roughly 3,000 respondents in each of more than 150 countries, to a question asking them to evaluate their current lives on a ladder where 0 represents the worst possible life and 10, the best possible.

For the world as a whole, the distribution is very normally distributed about the median answer of 5, with the population-weighted mean being 5.4. When the global population is split into ten geographic regions, the resulting distributions vary greatly in both shape and average values. Only two regions—the Middle East and North Africa, and Latin America and the Caribbean— have more unequally distributed happiness than does the world as a whole. Average levels of happiness also differ across regions and countries. A difference of four points in average life evaluations, on a scale that runs from zero to ten, separates the ten happiest countries from the ten least happy countries. Three-quarters of the differences among countries, and also among regions, are accounted for by differences in six key variables."

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