Magazine article African Business

Are African Countries Really the Most Unhappy in the World? A UN Report on Happiness Says That Africa Stands out as the Most Unhappy Continent

Magazine article African Business

Are African Countries Really the Most Unhappy in the World? A UN Report on Happiness Says That Africa Stands out as the Most Unhappy Continent

Article excerpt

According to the UN's 2017 World Happiness Report, an effort to measure societal contentedness beyond GDP growth, Norway is the world's happiest country. Joining it in the top ten are other Nordic countries, a smattering of Western European nations, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

The report lists the main factors supporting happiness as caring, freedom, generosity, honesty, health, income and good governance. It also identifies six "key variables" used to explain happiness differences among countries and through time. These are income, healthy life expectancy, having someone to count on in times of trouble, generosity, freedom and trust (ie the absence of corruption).

For African countries, by contrast, the report makes sombre reading. In an unfortunate reversal of the oft-repeated refrain of recent years--that seven of the 10 fastest growing economies in the world are in Africa--eight of the 10 unhappiest are also on the continent.

So pronounced is the gap that there is an entire chapter, called "Waiting for Happiness", dedicated to understanding why happiness in Africa lags the rest of the world. It does not offer any clear-cut answers, musing on whether the apparent levels of unhappiness are the result of disappointment with the disconnect between post-colonial aspirations and current realities or whether they are caused by disappointment with the unfulfilled promise of democracy. It is all quite vague.

So what are we to make of these findings?

Such rankings should be treated with scepticism, not least because of the arguably subjective and vague nature of measuring happiness based on criteria like "having someone to count on in times of trouble", and "generosity". …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.