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KARACHI: Pakistan is among the top 20 gainers on the World Happiness index this year, ranked at 67th place — a jump of eight spots from last year’s ranking at 75.

The United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network’s annual world happiness report ranked 156 countries based on six indicators: income per capita, life expectancy, social support, freedom, generosity and corruption.

The United Nations published the report on the happiest countries on the eve of the International Happiness Day, which is celebrated on March 20 every year.

Gaining a jump of eight points from last year’s position, Pakistan is ranked at 67th place

Finland was once again ranked as the happiest country in the world. Denmark, Norway and Iceland clinched the second, third and fourth positions, respectively. South Sudan took the last spot in the ranking, where the UN recently said 60 per cent of people face food insecurity following a bloody civil war which has claimed the lives of an estimated 400,000 people.

Pakistan ranks highest among all of its neighbours again this year. India ranks at 140 — seven spots lower than last year, while China is at 93, Iran at 117, Iraq at 126 and Afghanistan at 154 — just two spots above the last place. Bangladesh is ranked 125.

Pakistan is among the top 20 gainers on the index, joined by the Philippines, and countries from Europe, Africa and Latin America. Among the 20 largest losers are India, Malaysia, Venezuela, Ukraine and countries from the Middle East, Africa and Western Europe.

This coincided with a rise in negative feelings “comprising worry, sadness and anger, especially marked in Asia and Africa, and more recently elsewhere”, it said.

Despite the political turmoil brought by Brexit, Britain rose four places in the rankings to 15th.

The United States, meanwhile, continued its slide of recent years, dropping one spot to 19th place. “This year’s report provides sobering evidence of how addictions are causing considerable unhappiness and depression in the US,” said Professor Jeffrey Sachs, one of the report’s authors.

The report also highlighted the percentage of respondents in different countries that report donating to charity or doing volunteer work over the past month. In Pakistan, around 32.8 per cent of respondents reported donating to a charity, while 14.2pc reported volunteering within the 30-day period.

Focus on happiness and community

The seventh world happiness report focused on happiness and community. The central questions asked in this year’s report revolved around how happiness had been changing over the past decade, and how information technology, governance and social norms have influenced communities.

This year’s report also broadly considered some of the major forces that influence happiness by changing the ways in which communities and their members interact with each other. To do this, the report looked at three sets of factors to discern this, which included the links between government and happiness, the power of prosocial behaviour, and changes in information technology.

Published in Dawn, March 22nd, 2019