Photograph — Africa Action

The World Happiness Report (WHR) 2017 was released yesterday, March 20, and the fifth edition of the report since its publication in 2012 has Norway in top position climbing four spots up from last year, followed by Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, and Finland.

The major reason for the survey is to develop the science of measuring and understanding subjective well-being.

According to the report, happiness is increasingly considered the proper measure of social progress and the goal of public policy. In determining happiness and misery, some key determinants were developed based on surveys taken from the United States, Australia, Britain, and Indonesia to cast light on the factors accounting for the huge variation across of satisfaction among individuals.

Six key variables contribute to explaining the report which include GDP per capita, social support, healthy life expectancy, social freedom, generosity, and absence of corruption.

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 0 to 10, separates the ten happiest countries from the ten unhappiest countries.

The main innovation in the WHR 2017 was the focus on the role of social factors in supporting happiness. These social foundations effects are together larger than those calculated from the combined effects of bottom to average improvements in both GDP per capita and healthy life expectancy.

Focus on Africa

The first African country that makes its way onto the list is Algeria at 53 out of a total of 155 countries. This is followed by Mauritius a good ten places away at 64, Nigeria, the first West African country on the list, comes a distant 95, even lower placed than Somalia that has faced long-term civil unrest and occasional drought.

Credit: Gallup World Poll [Ranking of Happiness in African Countries]
Credit: Gallup World Poll [Ranking of Happiness in African Countries]
Sadly, unhappiness seems to be a characteristic that plays for African countries as they dominate the lower end of the table – the Central African Republic closes off the list as the unhappiest country at 155.

Essentially 16 percent of the world population that Africa carries is unhappy. When one looks at the key determinants of the survey, it’s not very hard to see why.

Social infrastructure is lacking across the board. Public polls put the popularity of leaders tethering towards the negative. In Nigeria, public institutions are synonymous with corruption, inefficiency and are left to faith to work.

Well-being is a far cry for the millions living on the African continent as 51 years of age is the average life expectancy and the number is steadily decreasing in the face of poor leadership and ineffective public policies that drain government pursues at the expense of exploiting natural resources.

Governments may be quick to dismiss the report with claims of working towards better livelihoods for their citizens but the truth is that if any African country made the top 10 at their current statuses, the debate would be divided among those who are excited about the news and the realities on ground that Africa is not working.

Unemployment rates, reduced spending power, forex policies, insurgency, famine and so on have to be taken into account. Faith in the system cannot be placed at the altar of the Almighty without the prerequisite needed – work! Judicial systems, security and so on need to be addressed.

Africa’s population is teeming with youth but the current state of affairs has left them more disgruntled than anything and in a place seeking a sign on how to move towards a brighter future.

Click here to get the full report here: WHR 2017

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