Happiness: The Balkans fail to sparkle in the world rankings

The peoples of the Balkans have little to smile about according to a new report released to coincide with the UN’s World Happiness Day.

How happy are the people of the Balkans? Not so much, if a new report released in New York on Monday on the International Happiness Day – which the UN has been promoting since 2012 – is anything to judge by.

Using a range of benchmarks ranging from income to life expectancy, welfare, corruption [lack of], trust and generosity, the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, SDSN, has  – unsurprisingly – worked out that Scandinavians have most to smile out.

Minus Switzerland, they hog four of the five top places in the ranking, closely followed in sixth place by the Dutch, which may explain why voters in The Netherlands declined to vote angry right-winger Geert Wilders into power last week].

Americans and Brits seem moderately content overall, coming in at 14th and 19th place.

Equally unsurprisingly, war-torn or starving African and Middle Eastern states bump along the bottom of the table, which is where you can find Syria, Yemen, Burundi, Rwanda and the Central African Republic.

In the not-so-happy, Balkans, Romanians and Slovenes seem the happiest, or least miserable, nations, coming in at 57th and 62nd place respectively, above a clutch of other Balkan states. Serbia, Croatia and Kosovo are all in the 70s, just above Montenegro.

The two most miserable states in the Balkans are Macedonia and Bosnia, clinging on at 90th and 92nd place respectively. Macedonians may be annoyed to find themselves ranked only one spot above devastated Somalia, and only 11 above the Israeli-Occupied Palestinian West Bank.

The report’s author, John Helliwell, an economist from British Columbia, Canada, told the Mail that happiness was not just about money, either. “It’s the human things that matter. If the riches make it harder to have frequent and trustworthy relationship between people, is it worth it? The material can stand in the way of the human,” he said. –

(Balkan Insight, 20.03.2017)


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