African countries do have a ‘happiness deficit’, according to a United Nations report released Monday.
The annual report produced by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), a global initiative launched by the United Nations in 2012 showed that African countries along with Syria and Yemen are the least happy out of the 155 countries ranked in the report.
Nigeria is the 103rd happiest country in the world and 6th in Africa.
The World Happiness Report, WHR, published since 2012, has found that happiness is less evident in Africa than in other regions of the world. It reports Gallup World Poll (GWP) ratings of happiness, measured on the ‘ladder of life’, a scale of 0 to 10, with 10 indicating great- est happiness.
"The report shows that little has changed in Nigeria since the 1960s. The WHR uses the ladder of life measure introduced by Hadley Cantril in the early 1960s as the yardstick for ranking countries on global happiness. Going back in time, Cantril’s classic study of The Pattern of Human Concerns in 13 countries conducted in the early 1960s included two African countries: Nigeria represented an ‘underdeveloped giant’ along with Brazil and India, while Egypt was among three samples drawn in the Middle East."
The report further said that the country evaluations reported by Cantril in the 1960s for Egypt and Nigeria have not shifted much in fifty years. The highest score is 10 on Cantril’s 0 to 10 ladder of life scale. Egypt’s mean ladder score was 5.5 in Cantril’s 1960s study and 4.735 as recorded in this year’s WHR 2017. Nigeria’s ladder ratings in the two periods are 4.8 in Cantril’s 1960s study and 5.074 in WHR 2017.
It is telling that an improved or decent standard of living was the greatest hope expressed by Nigeri- ans participating in Cantril’s 1960s study. Before giving their life evaluations, 69% of Nigerian respondents stated they aspired to a better standard of living, while 60% worried that they might not achieve a decent standard of living.
Nigeria was voted among the most corrupt countries on all three indicators recorded.
The Afroba- rometer uses the Lived Poverty Index to mea- sure freedom from the experience of depriva- tions in everyday life. Respondents are asked whether they have gone without six basic neces- sities in the past year, ranging from food and water to electricity in the home.
Norway displaced Denmark as the world's happiest country in the new report that called on nations to build social trust and equality to improve the well-being of their citizens.
"Happy countries are the ones that have a healthy balance of prosperity, as conventionally measured, and social capital, meaning a high degree of trust in a society, low inequality and confidence in government," Jeffrey Sachs, the director of the SDSN and a special advisor to the United Nations Secretary-General, said.
The aim of the report, he added, is to provide another tool for governments, business and civil society to help their countries find a better way to wellbeing.
Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, Finland, Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Sweden rounded out the top ten countries.
South Sudan, Liberia, Guinea, Togo, Rwanda, Tanzania, Burundi and the Central African Republic were at the bottom.
Germany was ranked 16, followed by the United Kingdom (19) and France (31). The United States dropped one spot to 14.
Sachs said the United States is falling in the ranking due to inequality, distrust and corruption. Economic measures that the administration of President Donald Trump is trying to pursue, he added, will make things worse.
The rankings are based on six factors -- per capita gross domestic product, healthy life expectancy, freedom, generosity, social support and absence of corruption in government or business.
"The lowest countries are typically marked by low values in all six variables," said the report, produced with the support of the Ernesto Illy Foundation.
Sachs would like nations to follow United Arab Emirates and other countries that have appointed Ministers of Happiness.
"I want governments to measure this, discuss it, analyze it and understand when they have been off on the wrong direction," he said.