The 2023 World Happiness Report by the United Nations (U.N.) Sustainable Development Solutions Network has ranked Singapore and Taiwan among the happiest countries in East Asia.
Singapore ranked 25th, followed by the United Arab Emirates at 26 and Taiwan at 27 globally.
The report, which released on Monday (20 March), was compiled based on global survey data from people in more than 150 countries and territories to measure happiness based on average life evaluations over a three-year period.
UN considered seven factors from the year 2020 to 2022: GDP per capita, social support, healthy life expectancy, freedom to make life choices, generosity, perceptions of corruption and dystopia.
John Helliwell, one of the authors of the report, said positive emotions have remained twice as prevalent as negative ones, and feelings of positive social support are twice as strong as those of loneliness even during these difficult years.
The top 10 happiest countries in the world, in order, are:
- the Netherlands
- New Zealand
Taiwan maintained its position as the top country in East Asia and the fourth happiest in Asia, which was also in its position last year.
Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia ranked higher than Taiwan in Asia last year.
Other Asian countries were also ranked based on the same criteria, including Japan at No. 47, Malaysia at 55, Thailand at 60, Mongolia at 61, China at 64, Vietnam at 65, the Philippines at 76, Nepal at 78, Hong Kong SAR at 82, Indonesia at 83, Laos at 89, Pakistan at 108, Myanmar at 117, Bangladesh at 118, and India at 126.
Singaporean netizens expressed doubt about UN’s report ranking
Some netizens have expressed doubt about the UN’s report ranking, stating that ordinary Singaporeans face various sources of stress in their daily lives, including the cost of living, rising housing prices, the recent GST hike, and other financial concerns that could burden locals.
A netizen argued that the survey does not measure happiness itself but rather factors that people should be happy about.
“We ought to be happy, but many of us aren’t? Why? Entitlement maybe?”
Additionally, a netizen reminded that although Singapore may rank high in terms of standard of living and quality of life, these come at a high price of a monotonous lifestyle and breakneck pace of city living.
“Not forgetting the looming social issue of our rapidly aging population. This is likely going to break our fragile social fabric since the economy will suffer tremendously.”
While other netizens suggested that the Singapore government should take action and issue a POFMA Correction Directions to the report:
Singapore also ranked as the most overworked country in the world
Singapore was ranked as the joint-most expensive city in the world in 2022, along with New York. The ranking was published by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) in its Worldwide Cost of Living (WCOL) survey.
The country was also named as the most overworked country in the Asia Pacific Region, according to a study by workspace innovation company, The Instant Group. The study also revealed that Singapore has the longest working hours per week at 45, followed by China at 42.
The overworking culture in the Lion City has left 73% of Singaporean employees unhappy and 62% feeling burnt out, the study found.
Additionally, an earlier well-being report by insurance company Cigna Singapore shows that 86% of Singaporeans experience stress, including 94% of hybrid workers.
Furthermore, Singapore’s stress levels are much higher than the global average, with 15% of its population struggling to cope with the pressure.