The Malta Independent 13 July 2020, Monday

Malta ranks 30th out of 157 countries in World Happiness Report

Helena Grech Thursday, 17 March 2016, 08:38 Last update: about 5 years ago

The 2016 World Happiness Report has been published, with Malta ranking 30th out of the 157 countries analysed.

Compared with the 2015 World Happiness Report, Malta has jumped up seven places. Happiness is measured using six distinct factors, namely GDP per capita, healthy years of life expectancy, social support (as measured by having someone to count on in times of trouble), perceived freedom to make life decisions, and generosity (as measured by recent donations).

“Differences in social support, incomes and healthy life expectancy are the three most important factors,” reads the report.

Many economists have questioned the point of economic growth if this does not result in an overall more satisfied and happy world. This realisation was first reached in the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan in 1972 by King Jigme Singye Wangchuck.

He coined the term “Gross National Happiness,” and committed himself to building an economy that would primarily serve to increase the well-being of his people, rather than increase the riches of a chosen few. This idea eventually increased in popularity, with ‘happiness economists’ finding practical ways to measure subjective concepts.

After World War II, the standard way of measuring a country’s success is by using the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This measures, in monetary terms, a country’s output – the value of all final goods and services produced in a specific period of time. In order to determine the economic performance of a whole country, nominal GDP is measures. This refers to adjustments of inflation or deflation in order to reflect the true value of a country’s economic performance.

This method of measuring a countries success has come under fire over the past couple of decades. The three most common criticisms are that GDP is a faulty measure in itself, that it takes no account of sustainability or durability and that progress and development can be better understood and measured using other measurements.

With regard to the first criticism, certain jobs that are carried out without the exchange of money would not be included in a GDP measure. In the case of Malta for example, where a high number of women traditionally choose to stay at home and look after their children, this would not be included in the country’s GDP. Nobody can argue against the important economic value of household jobs and proper childcare, which is why GDP measurement has come under fire when measuring a country’s long-term success.

Denmark was ranked the first, followed by Switzerland and Iceland. Burundi came last, preceded by Syria and Togo.

 

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