Today is the UN Global Happiness Council’s World Happiness Day; A global day where a landmark and comprehensive survey reveals to us which is the happiest nation on earth.
The World Happiness Report 2018 ranks 156 countries by their happiness levels, and with migration being the focus of this year, 117 of those countries were pooled for the happiness of their immigrants as well.
This index draws on a variety of factors to determine happiness; The most important are income, healthy life expectancy, lack of corruption, social support, freedom and trust and generosity. This year they pool the results of a Gallup World Poll surveys from 2015-2017 to determine the positioning of each nation.
Finland, Norway, Denmark, Iceland and Switzerland (in that order) topped the list. Usually, there is some movement at the top, but mostly from countries already in the high bracket – Scandinavian nations regularly finish in the top five – and the differences between them are so marginal that slight change can tip the balance, and so, Finland overtook Norway to be 2018’s happiest nation.
Strikingly, the top countries overall happiness was parallel to the happiness of their immigrant population. With data being taken from 2005 to 2017, it showed that the 10 happiest countries in the overall rankings were also in the top 11 spots in the ranking of immigrant happiness.
So in this grand scheme of things, how does Belgium, a country of up to 12.9% foreign-born residents, fare? The nation of 11 million scores pretty well. Belgium is 16th on this list, one place behind Germany and one above Luxembourg. Although the Netherlands is ten places above at number six, Belgium can take pride in the fact it ranked fairly levelled with its neighbouring countries; even being two and three places above the US and the UK, respectively, and seven levels above France.
Belgium ranked almost identically with Germany in 2017, with its social support and GDP being the main factors, as Belgian per capita GDP ranks among the world’s highest.