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Pinoy Abroad

PHL not on UN's list of 100 happiest countries

Is it really "More Fun in the Philippines" when the country is not on the United Nations' (UN) list of 100 happiest nations? Although Filipinos are generally known to be friendly and hospitable, the UN placed the Philippines as the 103rd ‘happiest’ country in the world, falling below Iraq and Nigeria. Out of the 156 countries ranked by the UN using the "Cantril Ladder," the Philippines was in the bottom half of the first World Happiness Report released earlier this week. According to the research consultancy firm Gallup, the "Cantril Self-Anchoring Scale" was a well-being assessment developed by social researcher Dr. Hadley Cantril. The Cantril Ladder was only one of the approaches used by the UN to measure people's happiness. The UN said: "The specific data we use are drawn from the Gallup World Poll (GWP), the World Values Survey (WVS), the European Values Survey (EVS), and the European Social Survey (ESS)." Using the Cantril Ladder type of measurement, the Philippines lagged behind its Asian neighbors, such as:
  • Japan (44th place)
  • Taiwan (46th place)
  • Malaysia (51st place)
  • Thailand (52nd place)
  • South Korea (56th place)
  • Vietnam (65th place), and
  • Hongkong (57th place).
China was ranked 112th. Still, the Philippines was behind Namibia (97th place), Iraq (98th place), and Nigeria (100th place). However, in the  UN's "Happiness Index per Country," using another type of measurement -- the combined World Values Survey/European Values Survey -- the Philippines was ranked 28th, close to well-developed countries such as the United States (23rd place) and Canada (24th place). The UN said: "The reasons for difference relate to answer scales (binary for the Gallup happiness vs. a 4-point scale for the WVS/EVS happiness question)." Ten ‘happiest’ countries According to the UN report, the 10 happiest countries based on the Cantril Ladder are: Country         *No. of Filipinos in the Area 1. Denmark              9,401 2. Finland                 2,111 3. Norway               21,154 4. Netherlands        19,658 5. Canada              667,674 6. Switzerland          19,529 7. Sweden               13,707 8. New Zealand        29,699 9. Australia            345,592 10. Ireland             13,800 *Based on the 2010 Stock Estimate of the Commission on Filipinos Overseas The countries that were at the bottom include Sierra Leone, Central African Republic, Benin, and Togo. The UN study based its ranking on "external factors" it considered determinants of happiness:
  • Income
  • Work
  • Community and governance
  • Values and religion
The following "personal factors" were also given weight:
  • Mental health
  • Physical Health
  • Family experience
  • Education, and
  • Gender and age
The 158-paged report noted that gross domestic product (GDP), a measure of a country’s wealth, was not enough to decide whether its citizens were happy or satisfied with their lives. “The first lesson of happiness research is that GDP is a valuable goal but that other things also matter greatly. GDP is important but not all that is important,” the report read. The UN Report noted that employment among citizens increases happiness while unemployment causes emotional distress. “Mass unemployment is a major blow to society. It reduces the happiness of those unemployed by as much as bereavement or divorce… Long-term unemployment can be devastating, both psychologically and in the deterioration of skills,” the report said. “A bad job is better than no job… A good job is one that provides happiness and satisfaction to the worker, as well as positive spillover to others. Happiness at work really matters,” it added. In February, the Philippine-based pollster Social Weather Stations noted a 24 percent unemployment rate in the country or the equivalent of some 9.7 million unemployed Filipinos. The World Happiness Report said the government is instrumental to its people’s happiness. “We have shown above all that happiness depends on a huge range of influences, many of which can be influenced by government policy.” The report urged governments to “give great weight to policies that reduce involuntary unemployment including retraining, job matching, and public employment.” “The government should systematically survey the subjective well-being of the population,” the report suggested. “The first reason for measuring happiness is to enable citizens and policy-makers to know what their problems and opportunities are, and how well difficulties are being solved and doors are being opened,” it added. - VVP/HS, GMA News