NEW YORK: India did not make any improvement in its happiness quotient, ranking 118th out of 156 countries in a global list of the happiest nations, down one slot from last year on the index and coming behind China, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
Denmark takes the top spot as the happiest country in the world, displacing Switzerland, according to The World Happiness Report 2016, published by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), a global initiative for the United Nations.
The report takes into account GDP per capita, life expectancy, social support and freedom to make life choices as indicators of happiness.
Switzerland was ranked second on the list, followed by Iceland (3), Norway (4) and Finland (5). India ranked 118th, down from 117th in 2015.
The report said that India was among the group of 10 countries witnessing the largest happiness declines along with Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Yemen and Botswana.
India comes below nations like Somalia (76), China (83), Pakistan (92), Iran (105), Palestinian Territories (108) and Bangladesh (110). India had ranked 111th in 2013. The US is ranked 13th, coming behind Australia (9) and Israel (11).
Rwanda, Benin, Afghanistan, Togo, Syria and Burundi were the least happiest countries, according to the report.
The report, released in advance of UN World Happiness Day on 20 March, for the first time gives a special role to the measurement and consequences of inequality in the distribution of well-being among countries and regions.
Leading experts across fields – economics, psychology, survey analysis, national statistics, health, public policy and more – describe how measurements of well-being can be used effectively to assess the progress of nations.
It reflects a “new worldwide demand for more attention to happiness as a criteria for government policy”.
Previous reports have argued that happiness provides a better indicator of human welfare than do income, poverty, education, health and good government measured separately but now they also point out that the inequality of well-being provides a broader measure of inequality.
“People are happier living in societies where there is less inequality of happiness. They also find that happiness inequality has increased significantly (comparing 2012-2015 to 2005-2011) in most countries, in almost all global regions, and for the population of the world as a whole,” the report said.