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Jamaicans less happy since COVID

Happiness ranking dips five spots

Published:Sunday | March 26, 2023 | 12:21 AM

Jamaica slipped five spots to 68 in the global happiness rankings, indicating that fewer Jamaicans have found things to smile about since the pandemic.

It comes amid heated inflation and rising cost of living, job protests over public sector pay and rising crime.

But Finland laughed all the way to the top of the world while Afghanistan was the most unhappy.

The report explained that country rankings for this year were based on life evaluations in 2020, 2021, and 2022.

“So all of the observations are drawn from years of high infection and deaths from COVID-19,” it stated.

The World Happiness Report is a publication of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, SDSN, and “powered” by the Gallup World Poll data. The SDSN is a non-profit set up in 2012 to promote the implementation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

The report was written by a group of independent experts acting in their personal capacities and doesn’t reflect the work of the UN, which assisted in launching the SDSN. The report was prepared by Jeffrey Sachs from the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University; John Helliwell from the Vancouver School of Economics, University of British Columbia; and Richard Layard from the Centre for Economic Performance, London School of Economics and Political Science.

In Jamaica, the “happiness gap between the top and bottom halves” of the population resulted in it being placed at 107 globally in that subcategory among 137 nations.

“This gap is small in countries where most people are happy but also in those countries where almost no one is happy. However, more generally, people are happier living in countries where the happiness gap is smaller,” stated the report. “Happiness gaps globally have been fairly stable over time although there are growing gaps in many African countries.”

During the pandemic, the island became markedly happier, jumping to the 37th slot globally in 2021. That was up from 60 in the 2020 report. In 2022, Jamaica fell back to 63 in the ranking and further to 68 in the 2023 report.

That is still better than the 75th slot it held a decade ago.

The inaugural report was in 2012 with subsequent annual editions. It measures happiness based on income per capita, social support, healthy life expectancy, freedom to make life choices, generosity, perceptions of corruption, and dystopia.

Jamaica and the Dominican Republic, which ranked 73, were the only Caribbean countries included in the 2023 study.

Regionally, the 10 happiest nations include Canada at 13, United States 15, Costa Rica 23, Uruguay 28, Chile 35, Mexico 36, Panama 38, Nicaragua 40, Guatemala 43, and Brazil at 49.

steven.jackson@gleanerjm.com