Singapore retains 34th spot in World Happiness Index; still the happiest country in Southeast Asia

Photo: Annie Spratt / Unsplash
Photo: Annie Spratt / Unsplash

Our general cheeriness has neither improved nor worsened from last year, according to this year’s World Happiness Report, where Singapore retains its rank as the 34th happiest country globally.

Though the city-state didn’t make it as the happiest country in Asia — a title joyfully held by Taiwan — Singapore is still considered the most content Southeast Asian nation, well above the regional likes of Thailand (#52), Philippines (#69), Malaysia (#80) and Indonesia (#92).

Released by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network for the United Nations on the International Day of Happiness (yeah we didn’t know that, too) yesterday, the annual list analyzes data from various surveys across 156 countries, logging in details such as life expectancy, freedom, social support, income, and generosity.

Based on those variables, Nordic nations came up tops in being the happiest bunch. Finland holds steady at the top of the list, followed by Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Netherlands, Switzerland, Sweden, New Zealand, Canada and Austria making it to the top 10.

“It’s true that last year all Finns were happier than rest of the countries’ residents, but their immigrants were also happiest immigrants in the world,” said the report’s co-editor and professor emeritus of economics at the University of British Columbia John Helliwell told CNN. He pointed out that its citizens trust their government and pay high taxes for a social safety net, on top of being generous with each other.

“That’s the kind of place people want to live.”

The report also studied the prospects of alternative sources of information to improve predictions of well-being, including digital footprints on social media and facial-detection technology, of which Singapore and China are highlighted as having spent billions of dollars in.

Singapore, of course, is not shying away from making public its plans to install lamp posts that are smart enough to carry out facial matching against databases. Though it’s a serious concern for privacy matters in an already highly-monitored country, the majority of Singaporeans aren’t that bothered by it.

The report also pointed out that the United States is less happy this year, having dropped a spot since 2018 and a total of five spots since 2017. It’s not just them though — overall world happiness has fallen over the past couple of years.

It’s a no brainer, but the countries that occupy the bottom of the World Happiness Index are nations ravaged by unrest and war. South Sudan is found to be the unhappiest country in the world, with the Central African Republic, Afghanistan, Tanzania, Rwanda and Yemen trailing behind.

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Reader Interactions


  1. Obviously something is wrong with the ranking criteria. Singapore citizens (when outside of their nice airport) seem to be the most unhappy people I encounter anywhere. Perhaps the ruling family puts something into the drinking water?

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