Data Focus

Are Indians unhappy? The answer depends on the metrics you use

Parvathi Benu | Updated on: Mar 22, 2022

The contrasting findings of the World Happiness report and Ipsos Survey shows that the parameters used to measure happiness can influence the result

Indians' pockets are not full of sunshine. This is what the latest World Happiness Report by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network indicates. But another report measuring happiness across countries – Ipsos Global Happiness 2020 Survey places India in a far higher position. The difference in the findings appears to be mainly due to the varying parameters used.

According to the latest report of SDSN, which was out on March 20, the World Happiness Day, India is the world's 11th most unhappy country or ranks 136th out of the 146 countries surveyed in terms of happiness.

The index is based on the Gallup World Poll, released annually and measures happiness based on six factors — GDP per capita, social support, healthy life expectancy, freedom to make life choices, dystopia, perceptions of corruption and generosity.

Since the first two parameters are based on wealth among the citizens and social benefits provided by governments, Finland, Denmark and Iceland top the list as the happiest countries in the world. India, incidentally, ranks the lowest in the perception of corruption and generosity.

Rank drops

While India ranked 111th in the world in terms of happiness in 2012 and 2013, the rank has dropped to 117 in 2015. Four years later, in 2019, India's position was 140, among the 156 surveyed countries. It fell to 144 out of 153 countries in 2020.

According to the report, India ranks below quite many countries, including Pakistan, Palestine, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Egypt and Iraq. The country that ranks just above India is Togo in West Africa, with a happiness score of 4.112 on 10, while India's score is 3.777. This is quite close to the score of Zambia (3.760), which ranks 137th in the world. Brazil ranks 38th, China ranks 72nd and Pakistan ranks 121st in the list. India has the worst rank among the BRICS countries and is has the second-lowest score among SAARC countries. Afghanistan is the world's unhappiest country right now.

"The ten countries with the largest drops were Lebanon, Venezuela, Afghanistan, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Jordan, Zambia, India, Mexico and Botswana," the report notes.

Ipsos Happiness Survey

At the same time, a report by market research firm Ipsos Global, published in October 2020, had something contrasting. A study that surveyed 27 countries said that India is the 13th happiest country globally , amid Covid. "At least 3 in 5 Indians (66%) said that they are happy. Global citizens too are similarly placed, with 3 in 5 (63%) saying, they are happy," says the report.

However, the same report says that the happiest countries surveyed were China, the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, France and Canada. On the other hand, the least happy ones were Peru, Chile, Spain , Argentina and Hungary.

While India has been scoring highly in Ipsos' reports since 2011, this too notes that the percentage of very happy people in India has been coming down. For instance, in 2011, they noted that 89 per cent of Indians were happy. This dipped to 78 per cent in 2017 and 66 per cent in 2020. It says that factors that made Indians happy included a feeling that their life has meaning, health, employment, living conditions, relationship with their spouse, children and spiritual well-being.

Published on March 22, 2022

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