By Olive Burrows
Nairobi - Somalia ranks higher than Kenya in the latest World Happiness Rankings.
The rankings which are based on data collected in the Gallup World Poll, show that on a scale of 0 to 10, Somali nationals rate themselves as being between the fifth and sixth steps of the 10 step happiness ladder at 5.4.
Kenyans on the other hand rate themselves as being between the fourth and fifth at 4.3.
Kenya is among the bottom 40 countries on the happiness scale at number 122 out 157 countries with war-torn Burundi bringing up the rear.
Denmark, Switzerland, Iceland, Norway and Finland respectively on the other hand top the list of countries with the happiest populations.
The United States comes in at number 13, Germany at 16 and the United Kingdom at 23. Israel is above them at number 11.
Regionally, sub-Sahara records the lowest happiness average of the last three years (2012-15) at 4.3 compared to 7.1 in Northern America, Australia and New Zealand.
The world average is 5.3 which would mean the happiness of Somali nationals is within the globally acceptable range while Kenyans are below average.
The report is compiled by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) which was commissioned by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in 2012 to mobilize scientific and technical expertise from academia, civil society, and the private sector to support practical problem solving for sustainable development at local, national, and global scales.
"Our main analysis of happiness among and within nations continues to be based on individual life evaluations, roughly showing the distribution of answers, from roughly 3,000 respondents in each of more than 150 countries, to a question asking them to evaluate their current lives on a ladder where 0 represents the worst possible life and 10, the best possible," the World Happiness Report, Update 2016 explains.
The 'happiness' rating has been found to be heavily influenced by six factors: GDP per capita, healthy years of life expectancy, social support (as measured by having someone to count on in times of trouble), trust (as measured by a perceived absence of corruption in government and business), perceived freedom to make life decisions, and generosity (as measured by recent donations).
"Income differences are more than one-third of the total explanation because, of the six factors, income is the most unequally distributed among countries. GDP per capita is 25 times higher in the top 10 than in the bottom 10 countries," the report explains.
Other surprises in the report are Ireland and Iceland which despite their economic crisis, have high happiness ratings; coming in at number 19 and third respectively in the country rankings.
"Of all the countries surveyed by the Gallup World Poll, the percentage of people who report that they have someone to count on in times of crisis is exceptionally high in Iceland and Ireland," the report reveals.
Countries are taking the happiness of their citizens more and more seriously with four nations - Bhutan, Ecuador, United Arab Emirates and Venezuela - so far, appointing happiness Ministers.
"When countries single-mindedly pursue individual objectives, such as economic development to the neglect of social and environmental objectives, the results can be highly adverse for human well-being, even dangerous for survival," the report cautions.
The 2016 World Happiness Report is the fourth, with the first having been published in 2012 in support of the High Level Meeting at the United Nations on happiness and well-being, chaired by the Prime Minister of Bhutan.
The 2017 report which will be more comprehensive will focus on China and Africa, include an analysis of workplace happiness, and the happiness implications of immigration, refugees, and transient populations."
The report has been released ahead of March 20 which is the World Happiness Day.
Source: All Africa