Remark: Singapore is the twenty fifth happiest nation on this planet listed here are some methods to make it a happier place

Comment: Singapore is the 25th happiest country in the world here are some ways to make it a happier place

Virtually yearly since 2012, the World Happiness Report (WHR) has documented the rankings of nationwide happiness for lots of of nations worldwide.

In WHR’s first and landmark report, Denmark was named the happiest nation on this planet, intently adopted by two different Scandinavian nations: Finland and Norway.

Just lately, nonetheless, Finland has overtaken Denmark because the happiest nation six years in a row.

What about Singapore? Maybe to the shock of many Singaporeans, Singapore has not fared too badly as a nation in the case of life satisfaction.

Out of over 150 nations within the Gallup World Ballot, which is the information set used to generate the happiness desk within the WHR since its inception in 2012, Singapore was ranked twenty fifth globally in 2023.

It has a median life analysis rating of 6.6 on an 11-point scale (the place 0 = worst attainable life and 10 = absolute best life). Then again, Finland, which got here first within the rating, has a median life analysis rating of seven.8.

However regardless of constantly rating as Asia’s happiest nation, Singapore has not seen a dramatic enchancment in both its rating or common life analysis rating over the previous decade.

Again within the first WHR report in 2012, Singapore ranked thirty third globally with a median life analysis rating of 6.5.

However ought to we fear about this? Protected!

For many years, happiness researchers like me have discovered constant and infrequently causal proof throughout nations and time durations that people who find themselves extra glad with their lives are, on common, extra productive, much less more likely to give up their jobs, extra trusting, extra prosocial, more healthy and extra more likely to reside longer.

It is usually most likely not tough to think about {that a} well-run nation requires its residents to be productive, trusting, wholesome, prosocial and still have a protracted life.

In brief, there are a lot of goal advantages to changing into happier with our lives.


So what are we doing proper as a nation? And what are we doing flawed?

To raised perceive these questions and their solutions, we should first perceive the vital determinants of life analysis.

Life analysis, which is without doubt one of the core measures of evaluative (or cognitive) well-being, captures how glad we’re with our lives basically.

How we reply to the query of life analysis relies upon partially on whether or not we really feel that our life lives as much as our expectations.

It additionally largely is determined by our surroundings, our previous and hopes for the longer term and our genes.

That is why among the most vital constructive determinants of life analysis embrace having a very good job, being bodily and mentally wholesome, incomes good incomes, being in good relationships with family and friends, dwelling in a secure , secure and nicely managed. nation, and have a very good social security internet, lots of that are issues that Singapore does very nicely on a big scale.

Then again, we are inclined to really feel worse about our lives when different folks like us, e.g. these of the identical gender, age group and schooling stage earn extra or progress sooner of their careers than we do.

Rising costs and inequality, in addition to the fixed stress to maintain up and evaluate ourselves to others, can even have an effect on our bodily and psychological well being, which occur to be two of a very powerful predictors of life analysis.

The best way we spend our time additionally issues.

If we spend most of our days participating in actions which have detrimental penalties for our day by day emotional well being, akin to commuting and dealing in a meaningless job, then we’re extremely unlikely to really feel very glad with our lives .

So what can we as people, as enterprise leaders, as the federal government do if we wish to make the entire nation happier?

First, it may be useful to be taught that it isn’t all the time a trade-off between well-being and financial development. Many people consider that we have now to sacrifice our happiness at the moment in pursuit of monetary prosperity and our happiness sooner or later.

Nonetheless, a easy adjustment to the best way we spend might help enhance how a lot every greenback should buy us by way of happiness.

For instance, research in psychology have proven that folks typically derive extra happiness from experiential purchases, akin to paying for a yoga class or a trip, than materials purchases, in addition to from prosocial spending, akin to spending cash on others akin to buddies or household, than spending on ourselves.

There are additionally vital roles for enterprise and authorities to play.

For instance, the 4-Day Week experiment, the place lots of of corporations around the globe launched a four-day, 32-hour workweek with equal pay to their staff, has confirmed profitable in bettering the general well-being of staff with out sacrificing their productiveness in return.

As a substitute of taxing earnings, the federal government might exchange it with a progressive consumption tax.

It’s like the present Items and Providers Tax (GST), besides that tax charges begin low for items which might be low-cost (akin to grocery meals) or costly however important (akin to medical gear) earlier than rising sharply for materials items which might be very costly (akin to luxurious watches).

Such a tax will assist to scale back the demand for conspicuous consumption that’s wasteful and dangerous to the welfare of society.

There may be additionally a lot to be stated for constructing a robust sense of group amongst folks dwelling in the identical native space and educating folks concerning the science of happiness in any respect ranges, from elementary faculty to school.


There are, in fact, many extra alternatives to enhance the happiness of countries. However maybe a very good start line is for us to begin taking these measures extra severely.

This may be accomplished by gathering and analyzing our personal well-being knowledge, which is one thing that many authorities businesses, akin to the UK’s Workplace of Nationwide Statistics and the Group for Financial Co-operation and Growth, have been doing over the previous decade.

We must always first know what works for well-being in Singapore earlier than we will provide you with any insurance policies to enhance it in the long run.

Presently, little or no has been accomplished to trace the general well-being of Singaporeans, be it life satisfaction, psychological well being and function in life on the inhabitants stage.

An answer to this might be for the Statistics Institute to begin together with questions on private well-being in its annual inhabitants surveys.

And with such knowledge, we’d be capable of observe how the well-being of Singaporeans is faring over time, particularly throughout the hardest instances just like the Covid-19 pandemic.

So far, there has solely been one examine performed by Dr. Terence Cheng (Harvard College), Dr. Seonghoon Kim (Singapore Administration College) and Dr. Kanghyock Koh (Korea College), who confirmed how life satisfaction of older Singaporeans dropped sharply earlier than and after the Covid-19 lockdowns, earlier than bouncing again to close pre-lockdown ranges 13 months later.

As Mr. Joseph Stiglitz, the 2001 Nobel laureate, as soon as stated: What you measure impacts what you do. For those who’re not measuring proper, you are not doing proper.

And measuring the overall well-being of residents, whether or not its life analysis, psychological well being, or function in life, is the correct factor to do.


Nattavudh (Nick) Powdthavee is Professor of Economics at Nanyang Technological College, Singapore. He’s the creator of The Happiness Equation: The Stunning Economics of Our Most Priceless Asset and co-author of The Origins of Happiness: The Science of Effectively-Being over the Life-course.