Every year, the World Happiness Report publishes a 156-country rank based on its “Ranking of Happiness”. In its 2018 edition, Finland is in the top spot, followed by Norway and Denmark. At the end of the ranking are Sudan, Central African Republic and Burundi. Brazil appears in 28th.
The evaluation of the World Happiness Report uses data produced between 2015 and 2017 by the countries and by Gallup, the research and intelligence company. The methodology analyzes six factors to determine the final score. These are: GDP per capita, social support, healthy life expectancy, social freedom, generosity and absence of corruption. According to the ranking’s organizers, the survey’s level of reliability is 95%.
"All top-ranked countries tend to present high rates for these six factors dedicated to well-being. Among these countries, the differences in these factors vary so little that changes in annual positions are not expected," the report said.
On the other hand, developing countries show much more intense variations in performance. Compared to the edition that collected data between 2008 and 2010, Togo was the largest gainer that had the greatest improvement in its indexes, and now ranks 17 places higher. Venezuela's economic and supply crisis made it the country that lost most points: 2.2 lower on a scale ranging from 0 (zero) to 10 (ten).
Brazilian and Latin American Performances
Brazil also lost points compared to the 2010 ranking. The Brazilian happiness index dropped 0.424 points down. Today, the country is in the 28th position, with 6,419 points, the fourth best place in Latin America, behind Mexico, Chile and Panama respectively, and one place ahead of Argentina.
In a survey on self-perception of happiness, Brazil and Latin America presented rates above the global average. In this research, respondents are asked: "on a 0 to 10 scale, with the worst possible life being a 0 and the best possible life a 10, which number best represents how you feel?" The mean of the responses given by Brazilians was 6.73 higher than that of the Latin American continent (6.07), which in turn was higher than the global average (5.42).
One of the factors that contributes to the Latin American average of happiness being superior to the global one is satisfaction with presence of family and friends. The creators of the ranking identified a relationship between levels of self-perception of happiness and family closeness. According to the data, Brazil is one of the countries in the world where people most visit friends and family - at least once a week (65%) - and Argentina, Venezuela and Mexico have the highest rates of family satisfaction (average above 6, on a scale from 0 to 10).
The best countries for immigration
The World Happiness Report devotes much of its work to assess the living conditions of migrants and, above all, immigrants. It identified that the ten best-ranked countries in the "happiest countries in the world" rank are also those that give their immigrants a greater happiness level. Finland leads in both.
“Happiness does change, according to the quality of the society in which people live. Immigrant happiness, like that of the locally born, depends on a range of features of the social fabric, extending far beyond the higher incomes traditionally thought to inspire and reward migration. The happiest immigrants are not the richest countries, but instead the countries with a more balanced set of social and institutional supports for better lives”, according to the text.
The index that does not evaluate happiness, but how well society accepts immigrants, is led by, respectively, Iceland, New Zealand, Rwanda, Canada and Sierra Leone. The worst are Hungary, Montenegro and Macedonia.