Taiwan happiest country in East Asia: World Happiness Report

Taiwan ranked as the third happiest country in Asia

World Happiness Report, 2017

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- A new report shows Taiwan is the happiest among the East Asian countries and ranked No. 33 in the world, an improvement from No. 35 last year.

According to the latest World Happiness Report, released by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network for the United Nations, Norway moved up from fourth place last year to the tops list, and displaced three-time winner Denmark, taking the title of "world's happiest country" for the first time. As for East Asia, Taiwan ranked as the happiest country in the region, which was better than Japan (No. 51), South Korea (No. 56), Hong Kong (No. 71) and China (No. 79), maintaining its top spot since 2015.

At No. 33, Taiwan ranked as the third happiest country in Asia, trailing Singapore (No. 26) and Thailand (No. 32), and ahead of Malaysia (No. 42) and Japan (No. 51).

Of the 126 countries with data for 2005-2007 and 2014-2016, there were 58 which saw significant increases, ranging from 0.12 to 1.36 points on the 0 to 10 scale. The changes in happiness levels in Taiwan also increased from No. 48 (0.190) to No. 47 (0.233). 

According to the report, China's GDP growth over the past quarter century is viewed by many analysts as the hallmark of a successful transition from socialism to capitalism. But the happiness of the people in China didn't scale up with the growth of economics because of the high unemployment rate and weak social welfare. If the welfare of the "common man" is taken as a criterion of success, the picture is much less favorable and more like that of European transition countries.

The rankings are based on gross domestic product per person (GDP) and healthy life expectancy with four factors from global surveys including social support, social freedom, generosity, and absence of corruption. In the surveys, people give scores on how much social support they feel they have if something goes wrong, their freedom to make their own life choices, their sense of how corrupt their society is and how generous they are.

Happiest countries:

1. Norway

2. Denmark

3. Iceland

4. Switzerland

5. Finland

6. Netherlands

7. Canada

8. New Zealand

9. Australia

10. Sweden