India occupies 126th position among 137 nations ranked in the World Happiness Report 2023 released by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network. In South Asia, Pakistan (score 4.555) ranks 108, Sri Lanka 112, Bangladesh (4.282) 118 and India 126 (4.036). Only Taliban-ruled Afghanistan ranks worse at 137. Finland is the happiest nation in the world, followed by Denmark and Iceland in 2nd and 3rd place.
|Least Happy Countries in 2023. Source: Quartz|
|Bottom Third Countries in World Happiness Rankings. Source: World Happiness Report|
The latest country rankings show life evaluations (answers to the Cantril ladder question) for each country, averaged over a 3 year period from 2020-2022. The Cantril ladder asks respondents to think of a ladder, with the best possible life for them being a 10 and the worst possible life being a 0. They are then asked to rate their own current lives on that 0 to 10 scale. The rankings are from nationally representative samples for the years 2020-2022.
|World Happiness Map 2023. Source: Visual Capitalist|
Happiness Scores Trend:
After climbing to a high of 5.65 in 2019, Pakistan's happiness scores have declined in recent years, reaching a low of 4.52 during the Covid pandemic. The most recent value is 4.555 for 2023.
|Recent Happiness Scores in Pakistan. Source: The Global Economy|
India's happiness scores have been declining every year since 2013, reaching a low of 3.78 during the Covid pandemic. The most recent value is 4.036 for 2023.
|Recent Happiness Scores in India. Source: The Global Economy|
Causes of Unhappiness:
Lack of social connections during covid lockdown, along with severe unemployment, high inflation and healthcare worries, took a toll on mental health of Indians, according to the experts quoted by the Indian media.
|Suicide Rates in India and Pakistan. Source: World Bank|
Indian experts' observations are supported by the Indian government data showing a marked increase in suicide rate in India. India saw the highest suicide rate (of 12 suicides per 100,000 population) since the beginning of this century, according to The Hindu. Experts say a lot of suicides would have gone unreported and that the numbers and suicide rates could have gone up in 2022 as well.
|Suicide Rate in India. Source: The Hindu|
India's unemployment rate rose to 7.45% in February 2023 from 7.14% in the previous month, according to data from the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE). CMIE’s weekly labor market analysis showed a marginal improvement in India’s labor participation rate to 39.92% in February compared to 39.8% in January 2023 resulting in an increase in the labour force from 440.8 million to 442.9 million.
"India’s LPR is much lower than global levels. According to the World Bank, the modeled ILO estimate for the world in 2020 was 58.6 per cent. The same model places India’s LPR at 46 percent. India is a large country and its low LPR drags down the world LPR as well. Implicitly, most other countries have a much higher LPR than the world average. According to the World Bank’s modeled ILO estimates, there are only 17 countries worse than India on LPR. Most of these are middle-eastern countries. These are countries such as Jordan, Yemen, Algeria, Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Syria, Senegal and Lebanon. Some of these countries are oil-rich and others are unfortunately mired in civil strife. India neither has the privileges of oil-rich countries nor the civil disturbances that could keep the LPR low. Yet, it suffers an LPR that is as low as seen in these countries".
|Labor Participation Rates in India and Pakistan. Source: World Bank/ILO|
|Labor Participation Rates for Selected Nations. Source: World Bank/ILO|
Youth unemployment for ages15-24 in India is 24.9%, the highest in South Asia region. It is 14.8% in Bangladesh 14.8% and 9.2% in Pakistan, according to the International Labor Organization and the World Bank.
|Youth Unemployment in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan. Source: ILO, WB|
In spite of the headline GDP growth figures highlighted by the Indian and world media, the fact is that it has been jobless growth. The labor participation rate (LPR) in India has been falling for more than a decade. The LPR in India has been below Pakistan's for several years, according to the International Labor Organization (ILO).
|Indian GDP Sectoral Contribution Trend. Source: Ashoka Mody |
|Indian Employment Trends By Sector. Source: CMIE Via Business Standard|
|World Hunger Rankings 2020. Source: World Hunger Index Report|
Hunger and malnutrition are worsening in parts of sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia because of the coronavirus pandemic, especially in low-income communities or those already stricken by continued conflict.
India has performed particularly poorly because of one of the world's strictest lockdowns imposed by Prime Minister Modi to contain the spread of the virus.
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