S'pore ranked happiest country in Southeast Asia: World Happiness Report 2021

According to the 2021 report, which was published in March, countries that performed best in minimising the direct death toll from Covid-19 also performed better on many other fronts. 

Lean Jinghui | September 08, 2021, 03:42 PM

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Singapore is the happiest country in Southeast Asia, according to the World Happiness Report 2021, compiled by the Gallup World Poll team.

For the 2021 report, focus was placed on the effects of Covid-19 on happiness levels, and how governments have fared in handling the pandemic.

Multiple considerations, including level of GDP and life expectancy, and more intangible aspects, such as social support, freedom of choice, generosity or social good, and perception of government and/or business corruption, were also taken into account for the report.

The rankings are calculated based on the average of surveys taken from the three previous years, in this case, from 2018-2020.

#1 in Southeast Asia (2018-2020)

Singapore made it as the "happiest" country in Southeast Asia, scoring a 6.377 out of 8 in the report.

The report stated, however, that for Singapore, survey information from 2020 was not available. Hence, the averages were based on the 2018-2019 survey.

Noting that there are some countries in the report without data from 2020, the report stated that most of them "continue to be represented by their 2018 and 2019 survey results".

This is because, according to the report, a strong correlation of 0.99 was noted between the 2017-2019 rankings and the 2018-2020 data, for the 95 countries with data for 2020, suggesting Covid-19 led only to modest changes in the overall rankings.

This reflected "both the global nature of the pandemic and a widely shared resilience in the face of it."

Globally, Singapore fared worse than our Western counterparts, coming in at #32 out of 149 countries studied.

However, the happiness score of Singaporeans was still generally higher than our immediate regional neighbours, such as Thailand, which came in at #54 with a score of 5.985, followed by the Philippines at #61 with 5.880, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, and finally Myanmar at #126 with 4.426 points.

Within the East Asia region, only Taiwan surpassed Singapore, standing at #24 with 6.584 points.

"Role model" in fight against Covid-19

According to the 2021 report, which was published in March, countries that performed best in minimising the direct death toll from Covid-19 also performed better on many other fronts.

This included in income, employment, and mental and physical health of the rest of the population, which contributed to the rankings.

Mashable cited Singapore's reputation as a regional "role model" in the fight against Covid-19 as well, pointing to Singapore's high vaccination rate and the government's relatively consistent lockdowns (as compared to other nations in the region), in controlling the number of Covid-19 infections in the country.

Trust, especially in public institutions, was shown to be a key factor in linking well-being/happiness and the implementation of successful Covid-19 strategies in the report.

Comparison with other countries in the world

Finland came in first again as the happiest country in the world.

It scored a near perfect score of 7.842 points, gaining consistently high rankings across factors such as GDP, social support, and life expectancy.

According to the report, Finland's high level of happiness could mostly be attributed to its strong safety net, as well as the government's handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, which was of course also supported by the amount of trust the Finns generally placed in their government.

Other countries in the top 10, in order of rank, were: Denmark, Switzerland, Iceland, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Luxembourg, New Zealand, and Austria.

Afghanistan was ranked the least happy nation in the world with 2.523 points.

The nation saw recent chaos following the Taliban takeover of the country and withdrawal of U.S. troops.

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