Thursday, 9 November 2017

World Happiness Report

I was sent a link to the Wikipedia entry for the World Happiness Report 2017.  This is published by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network which is referred for understandable reasons as SDSN!  

The wiki summary of the Report makes for interesting reading, although I focused mainly on the table at the end thereof.

I was very surprised to find that Tanzania rated 153rd of 155 ranked countries.  It only beat Burundi and the Central African Republic, and was rated 1 place below Syria!  Now, having lived there for 2 years I am not going to say Tanzanians should feel they are living in "the best of all possible worlds" but for goodness sake they should be (and on my observation were) happier than the few folk ekeing out a survival in the rubble of Syria or places such as Afghanistan (rank 141) and Yemen (rank 146).

I have found it difficult to get a handle on the methodology underlying the Report so have sent an email to the UNSDSN asking for a summary of the methodology.  In the meantime, I noticed that if one omits the "Residual'  element of the index Tanzania's position advances dramatically, suggesting the total score is worked out first and then the components.  When I get further info I shall do some further work.

I was also taken with the fact that Uganda (rank 133) and Kenya (rank 112) seemed to do better than Tanzania.  While we lived in Tanzania the impression was that Kenya was a much less pleasant place with much corruption and huge amounts of vioent crime and a very oppressive power structure.  I know less about Uganda but was surprised to see it rated 20 places more highly that Tanzania.

Looking at the categories:

  • Kenya does better than Tanzania on GDP per capita (pretty objective so fair enough); Freedom; and Generosity but less well on Life expectancy (pretty objective) .  I will be very interested to see the meaning of Freedom (in particular) and Generosity since they are not traits that I instinctively associate with Kenya.
  • Uganda beats Tanzania on Social Support (whatever that is) and Freedom (ibid) but much less well on Life expectancy.

I get a faint sense from this that the political system in Tanzania, dominated by the CCM party gets them low ratings on a few points, especially "Freedom".  But hopefully things will become a little clearer when I get details of the meaning of the various groupings.

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