What Can Make The World A Happier Place?
If you thought poverty, unemployment and physical ailments were the highest contributors to the world's miseries, you need to think again.
According to the findings of the latest World Happiness Report 2017, China's gross domestic product has multiplied over five-fold over the past quarter century but subjective well-being over the same period fell for 15 years before starting a recovery process. “Current levels are still, on average, less than a quarter of a century ago,” says the report. China is currently ranked 79th in the list of 155 countries.
In the US, the UK and Australia, mental illness is causing more misery than factors such as income, employment or physical illness. In fact, the report has ranked the US 14th in the list of 155 nations. This is no good news for the world's biggest superpower. More worrisome is the fact that declining social support and increased corruption has led to a fall in happiness levels of the US citizens over the years. In terms of happiness, the UK has a ranking of 19th while Australia is ranked ninth in the list.
Despite all the efforts made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to curb unemployment, India is ranked 121. India's struggling neighbours are in fact happier ― Pakistan has been ranked 80th in the report, Bhutan 97th, Nepal 99th, Bangladesh 110th, Myanmar 114th and Sri Lanka 120th.
So, what is the prime culprit behind all the misery looming over the world?
It is all in the mind
According to the report, happiness is more closely linked with your mental health than you might have thought. “In all countries, the most powerful effect (of becoming happier) would come from the elimination of depression and anxiety disorders, which are the main form of mental illness,” says the report.
“Income differences matter more in poorer countries, but even there, mental illness is a major source of misery,” the report further adds.
Your childhood does also decide how happy you would be as an adult.
“Factors in child development best predict whether the resulting adult will have a satisfying life, and finds that academic qualifications are a worse predictor than the emotional health and behaviour of the child. In turn, the best predictor of the child's emotional health and behaviour is the mental health of the child's mother,” says the report, adding: “Schools are also crucially important determinants of children's well being.”
Busy being miserable?
While “past spells of unemployment can have a lasting impact even after regaining employment”, the nature of your job will also decide how happy you are.
“Manual labour is systematically correlated with lower levels of happiness. This result holds across all labor-intensive industries such as construction, mining, manufacturing, transport, farming, fishing, and forestry,” the report adds. This could, to a great extent, explain the lower levels of happiness in emerging economies, including India, that are busy rebuilding themselves.