T&T – the land of the Steel Pan, Calypso, Limbo and Soca – not as happy as you would expect!

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Denmark world’s happiest country, Burundi least: new report shows. Denmark overtook Switzerland as the world’s happiest place, according to a report on Wednesday 23 March 2016, that urged nations regardless of wealth to tackle inequality and protect the environment. The report, prepared by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and the Earth Institute at Columbia University, showed Syria, Afghanistan and eight sub-Saharan countries as the 10 least happy places on earth to live.

 

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“There is a very strong message for my country, the United States, which is very rich, has gotten a lot richer over the last 50 years, but has gotten no happier,” said Professor Jeffrey Sachs, head of the SDSN and special advisor to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

 

“The message for the United States is clear. For a society that just chases money, we are chasing the wrong things. Our social fabric is deteriorating, social trust is deteriorating, faith in government is deteriorating,” he said.

Aiming to “survey the scientific underpinnings of measuring and understanding subjective well-being,” the report, now in its fourth edition, ranks 157 countries by happiness levels using factors such as per capita gross domestic product (GDP) and healthy years of life expectancy. It also rates “having someone to count on in times of trouble” and freedom from corruption in government and business.

 

“When countries single-mindedly pursue individual objectives, such as economic development to the neglect of social and environmental objectives, the results can be highly adverse for human well-being, even dangerous for survival,” it said. “Many countries in recent years have achieved economic growth at the cost of sharply rising inequality, entrenched social exclusion, and grave damage to the natural environment.”

 

Based on the first report that was issued in 2012 to support a U.N. meeting on happiness and well-being. Five countries – Bhutan, Ecuador, Scotland, United Arab Emirates and Venezuela – now have appointed Ministers of Happiness charged with promoting it as a goal of public policy. The 2016 survey showed that three countries in particular, Ireland, Iceland and Japan, were able to maintain their happiness levels despite external shocks such as the post-2007 economic crisis and the 2011 earthquake because of social support and solidarity. Sachs pointed to Costa Rica, which came in 14th and ahead of many wealthier countries, as an example of a healthy, happy society although it is not an economic powerhouse.

 

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Trinidad and Tobago is listed as #43 in this 2013-2015 compiled 2016 report. There was an increase of 0.336 over the 2005-2007 compiled report. This may seem to suggest that the UNC lead People’s Partnership government’s policies may have contributed to the overall increase in happiness of the population. The present recession brought on by depressed Oil prices may impact negatively on overall happiness as workers are being retrenched, in some cases without severance benefits. Also, businesses are not able to freely access foreign exchange to pay suppliers in a timely way and in turn affect their operations. As the local currency depreciates, prices are now being driven upwards. Additionally there continues to be an alarming rate of murders. If this trend continues, it is highly probable that T&T’s Happiness will decline considerably by the time the next report is released.

 

 

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