India ranked 139 out of 149 measured countries on the latest World Happiness Report, dropping a place lower than its rank in 2019. India's score is also the second lowest among its immediate neighbours, with only Afghanistan being last in the lot.
The World Happiness Report is released by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, a global initiative of the United Nations.
In 2019, India ranked 140th.
Talking in points, India scored 3.819 out of a possible 10. Finland scored 7.842, coming first this year, a position it has held for four years in a row with this report.
In the top five positions with Finland are Denmark, Switzerland, Iceland and the Netherlands. The United States ranks 19th, Pakistan ranks 105th, China 84th, Sri Lanka 129th and Bangladesh 101.
The countries lower than India but above Afghanistan are Burundi, Yemen, Tanzania, Haiti, Malawi, Lesotho, Botswana, Rwanda and Zimbabwe.
The report acknowledges COVID-19 to be a disrupting factor in the report, but notes that happiness levels from the two years are little changed.
"The top countries before the pandemic remained the top countries in 2020, so there is little change in the overall rankings. The top countries already had higher levels of trust and lower levels of inequality, both of which helped them to keep death rates low and social cohesion high, and hence to maintain their favourable positions," the report says.
Overall, the report aims at measuring two things in a year disrupted by the pandemic - people's lives and the government response to the pandemic.
"The World Happiness Report 2021 focuses on the effects of COVID-19 and how people all over the world have fared. Our aim was two-fold, first to focus on the effects of COVID-19 on the structure and quality of people's lives, and second to describe and evaluate how governments all over the world have dealt with the pandemic. In particular, we try to explain why some countries have done so much better than others."
The entire ranking table, as available with the rankings can be seen below.
How is happiness ranked?
Each and every score is based on a method called a 'Centril life ladder'. It is based on this question, on a score of 0 (worst) to 10 (best).
Please imagine a ladder, with steps numbered from 0 at the bottom to 10 at the top. The top of the ladder represents the best possible life for you and the bottom of the ladder represents the worst possible life for you. On which step of the ladder would you say you personally feel you stand at this time?"
The happiness score is then constructed with this ladder score, with the following components too being explained by the model, with the primary data source being Gallup's survey. India's score (3.819) has the following breakups:
- GDP per capita making 0.741
- Social support - having someone to count in on times of trouble - 0.316
- Freedom to make life choices - 0.6221
- Generosity - 0.246
- Healthy life expectancy - 0.383
- Perception of corruption - which is just 0.106
The last component is the score of a mythical country called 'Dystopia' plus (or minus) a varying error term (that shows the unexplained component of the model), as the model predicts this country to have the lowest score across all these six parameters. This makes up the remaining 1.405 of the score.
The report also captures daily life evaluations by asking respondents on their positive and negative emotions. In the survey, to capture positive emotions, it was asked if the respondent smiled or laughed and experienced enjoyment during a lot of yesterday in binary responses (1 for 'yes' and '0' for no). Similarly, for negative emotions, they were asked if they experienced worry, sadness or anger during a lot of yesterday.
The full report can be found here.
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