A new global report measuring contentment based on prosperity, integrity and social support found Vietnamese among the less happy people in the world.
The country ranks 94 out of 155 countries and territories, up two spots from the previous year right after Somalia, according to the World Happiness Report 2017. The report was prepared by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), a global initiative launched by the United Nations in 2012.
Singaporeans were named the happiest in Southeast Asia, at number 26. Vietnam also came behind Thailand (32), Malaysia (42), Philippines (72), Indonesia (81).
The new results could be a surprise to many people as Vietnam has often been described as a happy and optimistic nation. The Happy Planet Index compiled by the U.K.-based think tank New Economics Foundation named Vietnam the fifth happiest place in the world last year.
It should be noted that the World Happiness Report, released on the International Happiness Day on Monday, uses six factors – per capita gross domestic product, healthy life expectancy, freedom to make life choices, generosity, social support and absence of corruption in government or business.
“Happy countries are the ones that have a healthy balance of prosperity, as conventionally measured, and social capital, meaning a high degree of trust in a society, low inequality and confidence in government,” Jeffrey Sachs, the director of the SDSN and a special adviser to the United Nations Secretary-General, said in an interview with Reuters.
The aim of the report, he said, is to provide another tool for governments, business and civil society to help their countries find a better way to wellbeing.
The Nordic nations are the most content. Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, Finland, the Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Sweden rounded out the top 10 countries.
South Sudan, Liberia, Guinea, Togo, Rwanda, Tanzania, Burundi, the Central African Republic were at the bottom, along with the conflict-torn Syria and Yemen.
The United States dropped one spot to 14.
Sachs from SDSN said the U.S. is falling in the ranking due to inequality, distrust and corruption. He said economic measures that the Trump administration is pursuing will make things worse.