Philippines falls to 61st place in World Happiness Report

Gaea Katreena Cabico - Philstar.com
Philippines falls to 61st place in World Happiness Report
A restaurant worker cleans a table at an empty restaurant in Manila on March 23, 2021, after authorities implemented stricter social distancing protocols banning indoor dining due to an increase of new COVID-19 infections in Metro Manila.
AFP / Jam Sta. Rosa

MANILA, Philippines — Filipinos were unhappier in 2020, a year of despair, disruption and deaths due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to an annual United Nations-sponsored report.

With an average score of 5.8880, the Philippines fell from 52nd to 61st place in the 2021 World Happiness Report.

The researchers used Gallup data asking people to rate their own happiness, also taking into account measures such as gross domestic product, social support, personal freedom and levels of corruption to give each country a happiness score, which is an average of the past three years.

The authors of the report also compared this year’s data to the average of the previous years to gauge the impact of the pandemic.

Using this method, the Philippines ranked 74th out of 95 countries with a score of 5.080. This is down from 42nd place from the 2017 to 2019 surveys.

With over 677,000 COVID-19 cases, the Philippines is battling the second worst outbreak in Southeast Asia. A year after the pandemic was declared, it is dealing with another surge in infections, which health authorities blamed to decreased compliance with public health protocols that is aggravated by the circulation of more contagious coronavirus variants.

Filipinos are also living under the shadow of one of the world’s longest and strictest lockdowns, which shut down businesses and schools and forced many Filipinos to stay home. 

Happiness and the pandemic

The report found “significantly higher frequency of negative emotions” in just 42 countries.

“Positive emotions lie in the middle ground, with 22 countries on the upside and 25 heading down, in all cases relative to the average values in 2017-2019,” it said.

In a statement, John Helliwell, one of the report’s compilers, said “surprisingly there was not, on average, a decline in well-being when measured by people’s own evaluation of their lives.”

“One possible explanation is that people see COVID-19 as a common, outside threat affecting everybody and that this has generated a greater sense of solidarity and fellow-feeling,” he said.

Author Jeffrey Sachs, meanwhile, said “we need urgently to learn from COVID-19” and “aim for wellbeing rather than mere wealth.”

European countries on top

For the fourth consecutive year, Finland was declared the happiest country in the world.

Denmark came up second, followed by Switzerland, Iceland and the Netherlands. Completing the top 10 were Norway, Sweden, Luxembourg, New Zealand and Austria.

Afghanistan was the world’s happiest country and was joined by Lesotho, Botswana, Rwanda and Zimbabwe at the bottom of the table. — with report from Agence France-Presse

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