LAGOS, Nigeria; March 20, 2018
African nations overall rank the least happy in the new World Happiness Report. This is according to an analysis of the 2018 World Happiness Report, carried out by revolutionary teaching and media benefit corporation focused on building happier flourishing Africans, Joy, Inc. [www.joyinc.xyz].
The World Happiness Report, whose central purpose is to survey the science of measuring and understanding subjective well-being, was recently released by the UN’s Sustainable Development Solutions Network led by renown economist, Prof. Jeffery Sachs, as a follow-up to the World Happiness Policy Report released in February 2018.
The analysis by Joy, Inc. highlighted Mauritius, as the most happy country in Africa while ranking 55th globally; this is a rapid improvement since it ranked 64th in 2017. In spite of the civil war, Libya is the second most happy country in Africa, ranking 70th, Algeria is next, down from being the most happy country in the continent, ranking 84th. Morocco is 4th on the list, with a global ranking of 85, followed by Nigeria ranking 91st and Somalia ranked 98th. Cameroon (99th) is the seventh most happy country in Africa, followed by Gabon (103rd), South Africa (105th) and Cote d’Ivoire (107th).
At a time when migration is a compelling issue across the globe, the report also evaluated the happiness of migrants relative to native born citizens and also the happiness of families left behind. In reaction to the recent backlash against migrants, Gallup developed a Migrant Acceptance Index (MAI) designed to gauge people’s personal acceptance of migrant. Based on scores from this index, Rwanda ranks as the 3rd most accepting country in the world and Nigeria ranks 10th. Newcomer migrants and long-timer migrants both rate their lives higher than the native-born do. Notably, migrants do not lose their positive outlook the longer they stay. The report also confirms that the happiness of each migrant depends not only on the happiness of locals, but also on the level of happiness in the migrant’s country of origin.
The rankings of national average life evaluations were influenced by six key variables, and their contribution to national annual average scores/ranking over the whole period 2005-2017. These variables are GDP per capita, social support, healthy life expectancy, social freedom, generosity, and the absence of corruption.
Beyond the traditional variables like GDP per capita and healthy life expectancy, the report found that four variables covering different aspects of the social and institutional context – having someone to count on, generosity, freedom to make life choices and absence of corruption – are together responsible for more than half of the average difference between each country’s predicted ladder score and that in Dystopia in the 2015-2017 period.
All the top countries, according to the World Happiness Report, tend to have high values for all six of the key variables that have been found to support well-being: income, healthy life expectancy, social support, freedom, trust and generosity, to such a degree that year to year changes in the top ranking are to be expected.
Countries in Africa, though ranking low as a collective, can improve the quality of future placements and well-being of citizens by paying much attention to the variables mentioned.
Togo, for instance led in the change category, as it posted the largest gain since 2008-2010, almost 1.2 points. It was the lowest ranked country in World Happiness Report 2015 and now ranks 17 places higher. Among the top 20 countries that gained changes, all of which showed average ladder scores increasing by more than 0.5 points, 10 are in the Commonwealth of Independent States or Central and Eastern Europe, three are in sub-Saharan Africa, and three in Asia. The three countries in Sub-Saharan Africa are Togo (1.191), Sierra Leone (1.006) and Morroco (0.810), each rating 1st, 4th and 8th respectively on the change category. Two countries of focus based on the work Joy, Inc. does in West and Central Africa, Cameroon came at 0.445 points and Nigeria (0.263) ranking 29th and 44th respectively on the change category.
It wasn’t all gains, some countries also significantly loss; among the 20 largest losers, all of which showed ladder reductions exceeding about 0.5 points, seven were in sub-Saharan Africa. These countries include Tunisia (-0.504), Zambia (-0.617), Liberia (-0.713), Burundi (-0.773), Rwanda (-0.788), Madagascar (-0.866), Botswana (-0.911), Malawi (-1.561).
Africa includes 54 countries, the largest number of nation states on a single continent. Forty-seven of the 166 countries in the Gallup World Poll (GWP), about a quarter, are African countries. Due to, not in spite of Africa’s rich cultural diversity and wealth of ancient civilization, Africa can make enormous progress in ensuring the overall happiness, well-being and flourishing of Africans.
The most striking feature of the report and analysis is the extent to which the results buttress a finding in psychology that the existence of positive emotions matters much more than the absence of negative ones.
According to Glory Akpantaku, a member of the Central Working Committee of Joy, Inc., “In aggregating results for the world ranking of happiness, it was noted that that the existence of positive emotions matters much more than the absence of negative ones.” “Positive affect, that is the average of previous-day affect measures for happiness, laughter, and enjoyment, which is largely impacted by freedom and generosity has a large and highly significant effect on life evaluations. The substantial differences across countries in average life evaluations appear to depend more on the social and material aspects of life in each community and country than on characteristics inherent in individuals”, she added.
“According to the World Happiness Report, mental illness is one of the main causes of unhappiness in the world. It is the main illness among people of working age. It reduces national income per head by some 5 per cent—through non-employment, absenteeism, lowered productivity, and extra physical healthcare costs. Mental illness accounts for a third of disability worldwide. The promotion of good mental health should become the top priority for governments across the world.” she concluded.
This analysis is released by Joy, Inc. in commemoration of the International Day of Happiness celebrated on March 20, 2018.