Jamaica moves up 20 spaces in World Happiness Report

... but still lags much of the Caribbean area

Business editor

Sunday, March 18, 2018

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Jamaica is a far happier place than it was a year ago, according to results from the World Happines Report 2018.

Jamaica is ranked as the 56th happiest country in the world, below the island states of Japan (54) and Mauritius (55) and just above South Korea (57), according to the UN-supported report, which was released on Wednesday.

That compares to a ranking of 76 for last year's report — an improvement of 20 spaces. Jamaica's old space is now taken by Hong Kong.

The improvement represents a turnaround from the 2016 report when Jamaica had the 12th largest rate of decline in happiness among the countries in the report — and ranked at 73.

The World Happiness Report 2018 surveys the state of global happiness and ranks 156 countries by their happiness level, by examining elements such as GDP per capita, social support, healthy life expectancy, freedom to make life choices, perceived corruption and generosity.

Jamaicans are significantly happier than people from the island of Hispaniola, with the Dominican Republic ranked at 83 — compared to 86 last year, and Haiti ranked close to the bottom at 148, compared to 145 last year.

But Jamaica was not the happiest Caribbean state by a long shot. Trinidad and Tobago was ranked at 38, between Colombia (37) and Slovakia (39). Fellow Caricom member Belize also scored higher, at 49.

Other Central American countries with Caribbean shores also ranked much higher, with Costa Rica ranked at 13 Mexico at 24, Panama at 27, Guatemala at 30 and Nicaragua at 41. Honduras was an exception, scoring lower than Jamaica at 72.

But the country with the biggest fall in happiness in the Western hemisphere was Venezuela, which lost as many spaces as Jamaica gained, falling from 82 to 102.

Jamaica scored higher than every African country bar Mauritius, an island nation in the Indian Ocean 2,000 kilometres off the coast of Africa, but normally considered to be a part of that continent. The happiest country on the African continent is Libya ranked at 70, followed by Algeria at 84 and Morocco at 85.

The happiest sub-Saharan country is Nigeria at 91, followed by Somalia at 98 and Cameroon at 99. South Africa ranked at 105, with Ghana at 108 and Ethiopia ranked at 127.

The happiest country on Earth according to the report is Finland, which took the number one spot form last year's Norway. Also in the top five was Denmark, Iceland and Switzerland.

The United States saw its happiness rating slip slightly from 14 to 18, one place above a stable UK at 19, while Canada remained stable at 7.

Bottom of the list of 156 countries was the central African republic of Burundi. At position 78 Serbia was in the middle of the list. Most Caribbean islands, including Cuba, Puerto Rico and countries in the Leeward and Windward chains, were not included

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