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Happiness Rankings Around the World

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The World Happiness Report is a measure of happiness in countries around the world, and is based on six key criteria. These include GDP per capita, social support, healthy life expectancy, the freedom to make life decisions, generosity, and the perception of corruption.

In general, Scandinavian countries top the report, which shouldn't be a surprise given their combined affluence with strong social support and relatively honest, accountable governments. The countries which fall below the top group are lacking in income, social support, or both. On the other hand, though, most sub-Saharan countries in Africa found themselves on the bottom of the happiness report. War-torn countries also fared poorly.

The questionnaire was based on the Cantril Scale where people imagined a ladder with steps numbered from zero at the bottom to ten at the top. The top of the ladder represented the best possible, ideal life. Conversely, the bottom of the ladder represented the worst life imaginable. Respondents were then asked to imagine on which step of the ladder they presently stood at that time.

One key takeaway demonstrates the importance of social cohesion in a society. The countries which weathered the economic crisis best indicated high levels of trust, but countries which struggled scored poorly here.

The report serves as a guide to the world to realize new, sustainable development goals. And increasingly, the state of happiness has become viewed as an accepted mark of social progress and the goal of various public policies. As a result, governments have begun to use this information when considering and crafting policies which enable their citizens to live better lives.

Preview some of the lesson material:

Warm Up: Do you agree or disagree? Why?

  1. I'm generally a happy person.
  2. People in my country generally live long, prosperous, and happy lives.
  3. Happiness is a good measure of a country's success.
  4. Countries need to work harder to make their citizens happier.
  5. Money and success is more important than happiness.

True or False?: Guess (before the article) or answer (after the article) whether the sentence is true or false. If false, correct the sentence.

  1. The Happiness Report is based on only six questions.
  2. Scandinavian countries provided enough income and social support for their citizens.
  3. People who answered the questions first imagined ideal situations.
  4. The article suggests that social togetherness and support is a very important factor.
  5. The information in the report hasn't been yet used to decide policies by governments.

post-Comprehension: Talk about the following questions in pairs/groups. Remember to support your answers!

  1. Where on the scale do you think your country falls? Why do you think so?
  2. What could your country likely do to increase its rank? Please explain.
  3. If you could institute any change in your country, what would it be? Why?
  4. Of the six key factors, which do you think is the most important? Why?
  5. What sort of impact does the report really have on a government's planning? Why do you think so?

Google Search: Type "Happiness Report" into Google. Look at the websites, and/or read additional articles on this topic. Discuss or write an essay about your findings.

Download the lesson:



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