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News 11 Sep 13

Slovenes Happiest in Southeast Europe

A new report shows that Western Balkan countries differ significantly in terms of happiness and well-being.

Nemanja Cabric
BIRN
Belgrade

The World Happiness report, published on September 8 by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, UNSDSN, shows that citizens of Slovenia (ranked 44th) and Croatia (58th place) are the happiest in the Western Balkan region, while Albania marked the biggest rise in happiness in the region, ranking in 62nd place. The survey mapped 156 nations in all.

Regional Countries on a scale from 1 to 10:

1. Slovenia  6.06

2. Croatia  5.66

3. Albania 5.55

4. Greece 5.44

5. Montenegro 5.30

6. Kosovo 5.22

7. Romania 5.03

8. Serbia 4.81

9. Bosnia and Herzegovina 4.81

10. Macedonia 4.57

11. Bulgaria 3.98

Economically troubled Greece came in the 70th place, followed by Montenegro (80th), Kosovo (83rd), Romania (90th), Serbia (106th), Bosnia and Herzegovina (107th), Macedonia (118th) and Bulgaria (144th).

The results of the survey, carried out from 2010 to 2012, suggest the world has become slightly more satisfied compared to the previous period, 2005-2007, but that the financial crisis, as well as social and political problems have influenced the well-being of citizens of some nations.

Key variables in the survey were real GDP per capita, healthy life expectancy, having someone to count on, perceived freedom to make life choices, freedom from corruption, and generosity.

Denmark, Norway, Switzerland, The Netherlands and Sweden emerged as the world's happiest countries, while people in Rwanda, Burundi, the Central African Republic, Benin and Togo were least satisfied with their lives.

The happiest regions are North America and Western Europe along with Latin America and the Caribbean, whose citizens demonstrated the biggest increase of happiness.

The quality of life significantly dropped in Western European countries that were hit by the Eurozone crisis as well as in the Middle East and North Africa, due to political and social instability.

Change of happiness in the Balkans comparing to the 2005-2007 period:

Large increase:

Albania

Slight increase:

Slovenia, Bulgaria, Kosovo, Montenegro, Macedonia, Serbia

Slight decrease:

Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Romania

Big Decrease:

Greece

However, the report shows a slow convergence of quality of life between two halves of Europe – Western on one side, and Central and Eastern on the other.

There is some evidence of global convergence of happiness levels, with happiness gains more common in Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America, and losses more common among the industrial countries.

Happiness, as measured by people’s own evaluations of their lives, significantly improved in 60 countries and worsened in 41.

The report is the work of a coalition of researchers including John Helliwell of the University of British Columbia and Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, the London School of Economics's Richard Layard and Jeffrey Sachs, director of Columbia University's Earth Institute.

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