The study bases its rankings on data from the Gallup World Poll and takes into account variables such as real GDP per capita, healthy life expectancy, corruption levels and social freedoms.

Author: Gilly Wright
Project Coordinator: S.J. Yun

Published by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), The World Happiness Report is a landmark survey of the state of global happiness. Originating out of a project from Bhutan, a Buddhist kingdom of 700,000 people in the eastern Himalayas whose prime minister, Jigmi Y. Thinley, set out to measure Gross National Happiness. Thinley got the United Nations to adopt a 2011 resolution inviting member nations to measure their happiness as a guide to improving public policies.

"Increasingly happiness is considered a proper measure of social progress and goal of public policy," the report says. Adding: "A rapidly increasing number of national and local governments are using happiness data and research in their search for policies that could enable people to live better lives".

According to the SDSN the challenge is to ensure that policies are designed and delivered in ways that enrich the social fabric, and teach the pleasure and power of empathy to current and future generations. “Under the pressures of putting right what is obviously wrong, there is often too little attention paid to building the vital social fabric. Paying greater attention to the levels and sources of subjective wellbeing has helped us to reach these conclusions, and to recommend making and keeping happiness as a central focus for research and practice.”

The report states that at both individual and national levels, all measures of wellbeing, including emotions and life evaluations, are strongly influenced by the quality of the surrounding social norms and institutions. “When these social factors are well-rooted and readily available, communities and nations are more resilient, and even natural disasters can add strength to the community as it comes together in response.”

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