World Happiness Report 2015 Launched


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The World Happiness Report is a landmark survey of the state of global happiness. The first report was published in2012, the second in 2013, and the third on April 23, 2015. Leading experts across fields – economics, psychology, survey analysis, national statistics, health, public policy and more – describe how measurements of well-being can be used effectively to assess the progress of nations. The reports review the state of happiness in the world today and show how the new science of happiness explains personal and national variations in happiness. They reflect a new worldwide demand for more attention to happiness as a criteria for government policy.

The report is published by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN).  It is edited by Professor John F. Helliwell, of the University of British Columbia and the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research; Lord Richard Layard, Director of the Well-Being Programme at LSE’s Centre for Economic Performance; and Professor Jeffrey D. Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, Director of the SDSN, and Special Advisor to UN Secretary General Ban ki-Moon.

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The world has come a long way since the first World Happiness Report launched in 2012. Increasingly happiness is considered a proper measure of social progress and goal of public policy. A rapidly increasing number of national and local governments are using happiness data and research in their search for policies that could enable people to live better lives. Governments are measuring subjective well-being, and using well-being research as a guide to the design of public spaces and the delivery of public services.

Harnessing Happiness Data and Research to Improve Sustainable Development

The year 2015 is a watershed for humanity, with the pending adoption by UN member states of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in September to help guide the world community towards a more inclusive and sustainable pattern of global development. The concepts of happiness and well-being are very likely to help guide progress towards sustainable development.

Sustainable development is a normative concept, calling for all societies to balance economic, social, and environmental objectives. When countries pursue GDP in a lopsided manner, overriding social and environmental objectives, the results often negatively impact human well- being. The SDGs are designed to help countries to achieve economic, social, and environmental objectives in harmony, thereby leading to higher levels of well-being for the present and future generations.

The SDGs will include goals, targets and quantitative indicators. The Sustainable Development Solutions Network, in its recommendations on the selection of SDG indicators, has strongly recommended the inclusion of indicators of Subjective Well-being and Positive Mood Affect to help guide and measure the progress towards the SDGs. We find considerable support of many governments and experts regarding the inclusion of such happiness indicators for the SDGs. The World Happiness Report 2015 once again underscores the fruitfulness of using happiness measurements for guiding policy making and for helping to assess the overall well-being in each society.

Overview of the Chapters

This report continues in the tradition of combining analysis of recent levels and trends of happiness data with chapters providing deeper analysis of specific issues.

  • Chapter 2, by John Helliwell, Haifang Huang, and Shun Wang, contains our primary rankings of and explanations for life evaluations.
  • Chapter 3, by Nicole Fortin, John Helliwell, and Shun Wang, presents a far broader range of happiness measures, and shows how they differ by gender, age and global region.
  • Chapter 4, by Richard Layard and Gus O’Donnell, advocates and explains the use of happiness as the measure of benefit in cost-benefit analysis.
  • Chapter 5, by Richard Davidson and Brianna Schuyler, surveys a range of important new results from the neuroscience of happiness.
  • Chapter 6, by Richard Layard and Ann Hagell, is aimed especially at the happiness of the young – the one-third of the world population that is under the age of 18 years.
  • Chapter 7, by Leonardo Becchetti, Luigino Bruni, and Stefano Zamagni, digs deeper into the ethical and community-level supports for happiness.
  • Chapter 8, by Jeffrey Sachs, discusses importance of social capital for well-being and describes ways that societies may invest in social capital in order to promote well-being.

We now briefly describe the main findings of each chapter.

Chapter 2: The Geography of Happiness

Average life evaluations, where 0 represents the worst possible life and 10 the best possible, range from an average above 7.5 at the top of the rankings to below 3 at the bottom. A difference of 4 points in average life evaluations separates the 10 happiest countries from the 10 least happy countries.

Comparing the country rankings in World Happiness Report 2015 with those in World Happiness Report 2013, there is a combination of consistency and change. Nine of the top 10 countries in 2015 were also in the top 10 of 2013. But the ranking has changed, with Switzerland now at the top, followed closely by Iceland, Denmark and Norway. All four countries have average scores between 7.5 and 7.6, and the differences between them are not statistically significant. The rest of the top 10 (in order) are Canada, Finland, Netherlands, Sweden, New Zealand and Australia, all with average scores above 7.28. There is more turnover, almost half, among the bottom 10 countries, all with average ladder scores below 3.7. Most are in sub-Saharan Africa, with the addition of Afghanistan and a further drop for Syria.

Three-quarters of the differences among countries, and also among regions, is accounted for by differences in six key variables: GDP per capita, healthy years of life expectancy, social support, trust, perceived freedom to make life decisions, and generosity. Differences in social support, incomes, and healthy life expectancy are the three most important factors.

Analysis of changes in life evaluations from 2005-2007 to 2012-2014 shows big international differences in how the global recession affected national happiness. The top three gainers were Nicaragua, Zimbabwe and Ecuador, with increases ranging from 0.97 to 1.12. The biggest drop in average life evaluations was in Greece, which lost almost 1.5 points, followed by Egypt with – 1.13 and Italy with -0.76 points. Of the 125 countries with data available for both 2005-2007 and 2012-2014, there were 53 countries with significant improvements, 41 with significant worsening, and 36 without significant change. These differing national experiences appear to be due some combination of differing exposure to the economic crisis and differences in the quality of governance, trust and social support. Countries with sufficiently high quality social capital appear to be able to sustain or even improve subjective well-being in the face of natural disasters or economic shocks, as the shocks provide them an opportunity to discover, use and build upon their communal links. In other cases, the economic crisis triggered drops in happiness greater than could be explained by falling incomes and higher unemployment.

Chapter 3: How Does Subjective Well-being Vary around the World by Gender and Age?

The analysis in this chapter extends beyond life evaluations to include a range of positive and negative experiences that show widely different patterns by gender, age and region. The positive experiences are happiness, smiling or laughter, enjoyment, feeling safe at night, feeling well-rested, and feeling interested. The six negative experiences are anger, worry, sadness, depression, stress and pain. For life evaluations, differences by gender are very small relative to those across countries, or even across ages within a country. On a global average basis, women’s life evaluations are slightly higher than men’s, by about 0.09 on the 10-point scale, or about 2% as large as the 4-point difference between the 10 most happy and 10 least happy countries. The differences among age groups are much larger, and differ considerably by region. On a global basis, average life evaluations start high among the youngest respondents, fall by almost 0.6 points by middle age, and are fairly flat thereafter. This global picture masks big regional differences, with U-shapes in some countries and declines in others.

For the six positive and six negative experiences, there are striking differences by gender, age and region, some revealing larger cross-cultural differences in experiences than had previously been studied.

A parallel analysis of the six main variables used in Chapter 2 to explain international differences and changes in life evaluations also shows the value of considering age, gender and region at the same time to get a better understanding of the global trends and differences. The importance of the social context shows up strongly in the analysis by gender and age group. For example, the world regions where life evaluations are significantly higher in the older age groups are also those regions where perceived social support, freedom and generosity (but not household incomes) are higher in the older age groups. All three of those variables have quite different levels and age group dynamics in different regions.

Chapter 4: Cost-benefit Analysis using Happiness as the Measure of Benefit

If the aim of policy is to increase happiness, policy makers will have to evaluate their options in a quite new way. This is the subject of Chapter 4. The benefits of a new policy should now be measured in terms of the impact of the change upon the happiness of the population. This can be achieved in a fully decentralized way by establishing a critical level of extra happiness which a project must yield per dollar of expenditure.

This new form of cost-benefit analysis avoids many of the serious problems with existing methods, where money is the measure of benefit. It uses evidence to allow for the obvious fact that an extra dollar brings more happiness to the poor than to the rich. It also includes the effects of all the other factors beyond income, so it can be applied to a much wider range of policies.

Chapter 5: The Neuroscience of Happiness

Chapter 5 highlights four supports for well-being and their underlying neural bases: 1) sustained positive emotion; 2) recovery of negative emotion; 3) empathy, altruism and prosocial behavior; and 4) mind-wandering, mindfulness and “affective stickiness” or emotion- captured attention.

There are two overall lessons that can be taken from the neuroscientific evidence. The first is the identification of the four highlighted elements, since they are not commonly emphasized in well-being research. The second is that the circuits we identify as underlying these four supports for well-being all exhibit plasticity, and therefore can be transformed through experience and training. There are now training programs being developed to cultivate mindfulness, kindness, and generosity. The chapter reviews evidence showing that some of these training regimes, even those as short as two weeks, can induce measurable brain changes. These findings highlight the view that happiness and well-being are best regarded as skills that can be enhanced through training.

Chapter 6: Healthy Young Minds: Transforming the Mental Health of Children

Chapter 6 turns the focus of attention to the world’s future, as embodied in the one-third of the current global population who are now under 18 years of age. It is vital to determine which aspects of child development are most important in determining whether a child becomes a happy, well-functioning adult. Studies that follow children from birth into adulthood show that of the three key features of child development (academic, behavioral, or emotional), emotional development is the best of the three predictors, and academic achievement the worst.

This should not be surprising, since mental health is a key determinant of adult life satisfaction, and half of mentally ill adults already showed the symptoms by the age of 15. Altogether 200 million children worldwide are suffering from diagnosable mental health problems requiring treatment. Yet even in the richest countries only a quarter are in treatment. Giving more priority to the well-being of children is one of the most obvious and cost-effective ways to invest in future world happiness.

Chapter 7: Human Values, Civil Economy and Subjective Well-Being

Chapter 7 presents the history, evidence, and policy implications of the Italian Civil Economy paradigm. The approach attempts to keep alive the tradition of civil life based on friendship (Aristotle’s notion of philia), and a more socialized idea of person and community. It is contrasted with other economic approaches that give a less central role to reciprocity and benevolence.

The empirical work in Chapter 7 echoes that presented in Chapters 2 and 8 in emphasizing the importance of positive social relations (as characterized by trust, benevolence and shared social identities) in motivating behavior, both contributing positively to economic outcomes as well as delivering happiness directly.

The authors recommend changes to democratic mechanisms that incorporate these human capacities for pro-social actions.

Chapter 8: Investing in Social Capital

Well-being depends heavily on the pro-social behavior of members of the society. Pro-sociality involves individuals making decisions for the common good that may conflict with short-run egoistic incentives. Economic and social life is rife with “social dilemmas,” in which the common good and individual incentives may conflict. In such cases, pro-social behavior – including honesty, benevolence, cooperation, and trustworthiness – is key to achieving the best outcome for society.

Societies with a high level of social capital – meaning generalized trust, good governance, and mutual support by individuals within the society – are conducive to pro-social behavior. High social capital directly and indirectly raises well-being, by promoting social support systems, generosity and voluntarism, honesty in public administration, and by reducing the costs of doing business. The pressing policy question is therefore how societies with low social capital, riven by distrust and dishonesty, can invest in social capital. The chapter discusses various pathways to higher social capital, including education, moral instruction, professional codes of conduct, public opprobrium towards violators of the public trust, and public policies to narrow inequalities in the various supports for well-being, income, health and social connections. This is important because social and economic equality is associated with higher levels of social capital and generalized trust.

The Common Threads are Social

There is a common social theme that emerges consistently from the World Happiness Report 2015. At both the individual and national levels, all measures of well-being, including emotions and life evaluations, are strongly influenced by the quality of the surrounding social norms and institutions. These include family and friendships at the individual level, the presence of trust and empathy at the neighborhood and community levels, and power and quality of the over- arching social norms that determine the quality of life within and among nations and generations. When these social factors are well-rooted and readily available, communities and nations are more resilient, and even natural disasters can add strength to the community as it comes together in response.

The challenge is to ensure that policies are designed and delivered in ways that enrich the social fabric, and teach the pleasure and power of empathy to current and future generations. Under the pressures of putting right what is obviously wrong, there is often too little attention paid to building the vital social fabric. Paying greater attention to the levels and sources of subjective well-being has helped us to reach these conclusions, and to recommend making and keeping happiness as a central focus for research and practice.


World Happiness Report 2015

The 2015 World Happiness Report and supplemental files are available for download for free below.

TitleFile Size 
World Happiness Report 2015 7.52 MB Download
Annex 1 193.99 kB Download
Summary 256.68 kB Download
Frequently Asked Questions 220.97 kB Download
WHR 2015 Chapter 1 (Spanish) 439.43 kB Download


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TFC Bags Its First Philippine Anvil Award For Its Advocacy Campaign On Overseas Voting

“Boto Mo, Kinabukasan ng Bawat Pilipino” campaign of TFC under landmark partnership with DFA and COMELEC earns judges’ nod for Excellence in Public Relations


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TFCs partners fr govt represented by DFA-OVS VC Edgardo CastroOWWA ASMD Head Josephine TobiaCFO Usec Mary Grace Tirona MR
TFC’s partners from government represented by DFA-OVS Vice Chairperson Edgardo Castro (farthest left); OWWA ASMD Head Josephine Tobia (third from left) and CFO Undersecretary Mary Grace Tirona (third from right) together with Averion and the TFC team celebrate a triumph for the concerted overseas voting campaign.

April 23, 2015 (Quezon City, Philippines) –ABS-CBN The Filipino Channel (TFC) earned its first Anvil Award for Public Relations at the recently concluded 50th Anvil Awards held in Marriott Hotel, Manila for its advocacy campaign that encouraged overseas Filipinos (OFs) to exercise their right to vote in the 2013 elections.

“Boto Mo, Kinabukasan ng Bawat Pilipino,” earned a Silver Anvil under the category Outstanding Public Relations Programs Directed at Specific Stakeholders.  The campaign, developed by TFC as a result of its landmark partnership with the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) and Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), won for meeting the highest standards in terms of addressing the campaign’s defined objectives of promoting the overseas voting to Filipinos outside the homeland; defining a strategic plan that includes the engagement of our kababayans at key touchpoints, execution of communication elements with the maximization of resources; and making effective evaluation post-campaign.  

According to Anvil Awards Committee Chairperson Milen De Quiros, APR, “The Anvil is the symbol of excellence in public relations in the Philippines, conferred by a distinguished multi-sectoral jury to outstanding public relations programs and tools designed and implemented in 2013.”  

Public Relations Society of the Philippines (PRSP) President Bong Osorio, APR, says this year’s Anvil was very competitive as the PRSP recorded a total of 423 entities, the highest in years.  He says:  “TFC’s campaign won over notable finalists.  The award attests to the network’s adherence to highest standards of excellence in Public Relations.”

”Community and nation-building are embedded in ABS-CBN’s corporate culture, reflecting our organizational values and objectives. Thus, working with Philippine government agencies like COMELEC, DFA and Philippine embassies and consulates worldwide to involve overseas Filipinos in the election process is an endeavor that makes much sense.  Winning an Anvil award for our PR campaign to promote that involvement is a validation of that effort.  Our team thanks our leadership, all our partners, PRSP, and the Anvil Committee for this recognition,” said ABS-CBN Global Director of Corporate Affairs & PR Nerissa Fernandez.

Receiving the award for the TFC team were ABS-CBN Asia-Pacific Managing Director Ailene Averion and members of the Global Corporate Affairs and PR team Marianne de Vera and Somewell Aljames Gadiane; officers from prime agency partner such as DFA Overseas Voting Secretariat (DFA-OVS) represented by Vice Chairperson Edgardo Castro as well as key partners Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) represented by Undersecretary Mary Grace Ampil Tirona and Overseas Workers’ Welfare and Administration (OWWA) represented by Advocacy and Social Marketing Division (ASMD) Head Josephine Tobia.

The ANVIL is the symbol of excellence in public relations in the Philippines, awarded by a distinguished multi-sectoral jury to outstanding public relations programs and tools designed and implemented during the previous year. The Anvil Awards competition is conducted annually by the Public Relations Society of the Philippines. The awards given are Silver, Gold, Platinum and the Grand Anvil Award.  The Anvil Award is much coveted and is given only if the high standards are met.


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Volunteer Mission of Hope Educates Filipino Kids in Sabah


by: Christine O. Avendaño
March 1st, 2015

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OUT OF THE BOX   Children of undocumented Filipinos learn the 3 R’s as well as other basic skills at Stairway to Hope Learning Center at Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, an alternative learning center built through the joint effort of volunteers from the Filipino community and the Philippine Embassy in Malaysia. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines–It seems strange to hear the “Lupang Hinirang” being sung in Sabah, the state in East Malaysia to which the Philippines has a longstanding claim on behalf of the Sultanate of Sulu. 

The Philippine national anthem is being heartily sung by children of undocumented Filipinos in the disputed territory who are given free education, thanks to volunteers from the Filipino community there and the drive of the Philippine Embassy in Malaysia.

Stairway to Hope Learning Center in the capital of Kota Kinabalu is one of six alternative learning centers (ALCs) in Sabah where more than 2,000 children of undocumented Filipinos are enrolled.

Besides the Philippine national anthem, the children at the ALCs are taught “reading, arithmetic, Bahasa and like skills,” according to Philippine Ambassador to Malaysia Eduardo Malaya.

‘Rampant illiteracy’

Malaya said the ALCs were put up by members of the Filipino community in Malaysia, with the embassy’s encouragement, in response to the “rampant illiteracy” of thousands of Filipino children in Sabah who had no access to public schools because of the irregular status of their parents.

Under Malaysian laws, access to local public schools extends only to those possessing Malaysian citizenship.

Malaya said the parents of undocumented Filipinos could not afford to send their children to private schools. A way had to be found for education to be provided to these children who had nowhere to go but the streets, he said.

“These children, mostly Muslim Filipinos, would often be found in public markets in the large towns or in oil palm plantations in the interior of Sabah, loitering around or doing menial jobs,” Malaya said.

There are now six ALCs serving some 2,200 school-age children in the Sabah capital and the municipalities of Keningau, Lahad Datu, Semporna and Sandakan.

Tremendous challenges

The ALCs are run and staffed by volunteer teachers—Filipinos and Sabahans—who receive no compensation. Most of the volunteers are the parents themselves who care about the future of their kids, Malaya said.

The centers are being financed through donations from “kind-hearted individuals and some corporations.”

The challenges faced by the ALCs are “tremendous,” Malaya said.

“There is lack of almost everything that normal schools and pupils often take for granted—teachers who are qualified to teach, comfortable classrooms, proper school facilities, school supplies, adequate operating expenses,” he said.

It is a “miracle” that these centers are still running, the ambassador said.

“It is the volunteers’ resourcefulness and commitment to the children’s future that keep them going,” he said.

Malaya said the Philippine government was committed to providing this kind of alternative education to Filipino children in Sabah.

The education intervention program for the Filipino children in Sabah is the first such program undertaken by the government.

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Some 2,200 children are recipients of free education from six centers that thrive through individual and corporate donations. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

MOU on education

In February 2014, during the visit of President Aquino to Kuala Lumpur, the Philippines and Malaysia signed a memorandum of understanding on cooperation in education.

“The Philippine side has indicated that it wishes to give priority to alternative education in the implementation of the agreement,” Malaya said.

Malaya said the hope was to see more ALCs put up in Sabah, as well as for the government to work out “an appropriate recognition and accreditation of the ALCs by the Malaysian authorities in the near future.”

Last November, “at the urging of the embassy,” the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) conducted a two-week capability workshop in Kota Kinabalu to “raise the competency of some 65 volunteer teachers,” Malaya said.

The workshop was attended by DepEd Undersecretary Mario Derequito and CFO Chair Mely Nicolas.

Beyond politics

Malaya recalled that when he first visited Stairway to Hope two years ago he found the children there to be shy. But after six months of basic literacy, he could see the children had gained much confidence. He credited those running the school, led by Marilou Salgatar-Chin, for this.

“For many of us, the issue is beyond politics. It is humanitarian, it is about children and the imperative to provide them a future brighter than the bleak one they face in the future,” Malaya said.

The ambassador said he never thought of focusing on education as a diplomat, but now he was glad that he did.


by: Christine O. Avendaño
March 1st, 2015


Filipinos Score Low On Financial Literacy


The Filipino Times
April 22, 2015

DUBAI: The financial literacy levels across the Asia Pacific region, which includes the Philippines, is decreasing with only few countries as exception, according to a latest research by MasterCard.

Besides Philippines, other markets that scored low on financial literacy included Malaysia, Bangladesh, Thailand and Singapore, Gulf News quoted MasterCard’s Financial Literacy Index as pointing out.

The index measures the progress of financial literacy in 16 countries, including India, Philippines, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Japan, China, Korea and Myanmar among others.

India, as well as Indonesia, Vietnam, and Taiwan are the only markets to improve their financial literacy scores in 2014, and 2013, the report said.

Overall, people from Taiwan are the most financially literate, followed by New Zealand and Hong Kong. Singapore’s financial literacy dropped from the second to sixth place, while Japan remains at the lowest rung, it added.

Meanwhile, Filipinos occupied the 8th spot, while Indonesians were ranked 14th and Bangladeshis 15th, it was pointed out.

These countries, where a large proportion of expatriates in the UAE come from, are considered a region of savers. While majority of these consumers finance prudently, and save regularly, many are not very sound with other financial concepts, including retirement funds, the risks associated with investment, inflation and asset diversification, Gulf News reported.

“In both developed and emerging markets, people are struggling to understand the basic financial concepts such as inflation. In addition, while Asia Pacific is a region of savers, lack of retirement plans can have particular concern,” T.V. Seshadri, MasterCard group executive, global products and solutions, Asia Pacific, reportedly said.

MasterCard’s study was conducted for the fourth time between July and August 2014. The findings were released only last week.


The Filipino Times
April 22, 2015


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