Nigeria is 95th happiest nation worldwide, sixth in Africa
Finland retains top spot for six years running as Afghanistan, Lebanon rank low
Nigeria is now 95th happiest nation in the world and sixth in Africa, with 4.981 points, according to the latest edition of the World Happiness Report, released yesterday.
Mauritius tops African countries in the yearly United Nations-sponsored index of 137 nations, with 5.902 points, Algeria (5.329), South Africa (5.275), Congo Brazzaville (5.267), Guinea (5.072), Cote d’Ivoire (5.053) and Gabon (5.035).
The report again named Finland world’s happiest country. The nation, which is home to 5.5 million people, has held the title for six years running.
Meanwhile, Afghanistan remains at the bottom of the ranking a league table of almost 140 countries.
The United Kingdom dropped two places to 19th, while the United States jumped up one place to 15th. France dropped out of the top 20.
Scientists behind the report concluded that the COVID-19 pandemic has not made us unhappier.
Self-reported satisfaction remained “remarkably resilient” worldwide between 2020 and 2022 – despite the pandemic, results revealed.
Despite several overlapping global crises during the period, including the outbreak and war in Ukraine, most countries logged global life satisfaction scores that were just as high as those in the pre-pandemic years, the researchers found.
Interviews with more than 100,000 people across 137 countries revealed that people self-reported significantly higher levels of benevolence — acts of kindness — than before 2020.
The report, now in its 11th year, is based on people’s own assessment of their happiness, as well as economic and social data.
It assigns a happiness score on a scale of zero to 10, based on an average over a three-year period.
This year, the authors also used data from social media to compare people’s emotions before and after the COVID-19 crisis.
Eight of the 10 happiest nations were found in Europe, with Denmark scooping second place, at 7.58 points.
It was followed by Iceland, Israel and The Netherlands, which recorded scores of 7.53, 7.47 and 7.40, respectively.
Canada, which was ranked 13th, went two places up.
Lithuania is the only new country in the top 20, rising more than 30 places since 2017.
War-scarred Afghanistan and Lebanon remain the two unhappiest countries in the survey, retaining bottom spots, with average life evaluations more than five points lower than in the 10 happiest countries.
Sierra Leone also fared poorly, falling to 135th position, ranking the third unhappiest country with 3.14 points.
Canadian economist and editor of the report, John Helliwell, said: “Average happiness and our country rankings, for emotions as well as life evaluations, have been remarkably stable during the three COVID-19 years.
“Changes in rankings that have taken place have been continuations of longer-term trends, such as the increases seen in the rankings of the three Baltic countries.
“Even during these difficult years, positive emotions have remained twice as prevalent as negative ones, and feelings of positive social support twice as strong as those of loneliness.”
The study found there was a “significant increase” in the number of people reporting the happiness effect of ‘having someone to count on in times of trouble’.
Globally, 80 per cent of survey respondents said they had someone to count on, which was one of the factors that boosted average life satisfaction during the pandemic years, analysts said.
Measures of misery across the world also fell slightly during the three COVID-19 years, researchers found.
Despite higher death tolls among elderly people, those aged over 60 on average reported improvements in their happiness relative to younger groups.
The report also marked the first year the rankings take into account Vladimir Putin’s war, with Ukraine ranking 92nd — up six places on 2022.
Russia also climbed up the table, ranking in 70th, up ten positions on the previous year.
According to the report, both countries shared the global increases in benevolence during 2020 and 2021.
But during 2022, benevolence grew sharply in Ukraine but fell in Russia.
Despite the magnitude of suffering and damage in Ukraine, life evaluations in September 2022 remained higher than in the aftermath of the 2014 annexation.
Analysts believe this is because Ukrainians are supported now by a stronger sense of common purpose, benevolence and trust in Ukrainian leadership.
The UN-backed Sustainable Development Solutions Network and the Centre carry out the study for Sustainable Development at Columbia University in New York.