Singapore is the 30th happiest country in the world, according to the 2013 World Happiness Report, making it the only Asian country in the top 30. Released by Columbia University’s Earth Institute on September 9, the report ranked Denmark the happiest country in the world, with Finland and Norway coming in 2nd and 3rd. West African Togo brought up the rear at 156th place.
Sponsored by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, the global survey ranks countries based on six key factors that contribute to well-being. These include a country’s real GDP per capita, healthy life expectancy, having someone to count on, perceived freedom to make life choices, freedom from corruption, and generosity.
According to another survey, the Asia Happiness Index 2013 conducted by the Eden Strategy Institute (ESI), Singapore netizens are among Asia’s happiest people, ranking first among five Asian countries.
The survey covered 200 million social media accounts, and the ranking is based on their emotional expressiveness in social media.
ESI said, “Despite recent complaints, the majority of Singaporeans continue to build on the Singaporean dream of self-actualisation, meritocracy, safety, and efficiency in society. [Singaporean youths are] particularly vocal during festive periods and special occasions, [expressing] their encouragement [and sharing] pictures as a means of connecting with each other.”
Eden Strategy Institute (ESI) positions itself as Asia’s leader in social innovation.
Ironically, Gallup had conducted another survey where Singapore was ranked the most emotionless country in the world. Singapore also ranked 1st in experiencing the lowest positive emotions worldwide.
Gallup measured the emotions of people in over 150 countries. Only 36% of Singaporeans reported positive and negative feelings on a daily basis, compared to 60% of Filipinos. The Philippines is the most emotional country, according to the survey.
These were the questions Gallup asked in their survey: • “Did you smile laugh a lot yesterday?” • “Were you treated with respect yesterday?” • “Did you feel well-rested?” • “Did you learn or do something interesting yesterday?” • “Did you experience feelings like enjoyment, physical pain, worry, sadness, stress, anger on a daily basis?”
Singapore has the lowest unemployment rates, as well as one of the highest rates of GDP per capita, in the world. But money does not necessarily buy happiness.
Joe Clifton from Gallup commented, “Higher income does not necessarily mean higher well-being.”
Clifton advised, “Leaders who are looking for ways to further improve the human condition in their countries – especially those societies such as Singapore that are doing well on traditional economic indicators, but not necessarily behavioural metrics – need to do more to incorporate well-being into their leadership strategies.”
Singapore is a safe place with excellent infrastructure, facilities and transport systems, and Singaporeans are grateful about that. However, the rising cost of living, work-life stress, competition and the influx of foreigners are hard for Singaporeans to bear.
Q & A
Ms Nang Hla Thidar, 34, Administrative Assistant (Singapore PR from Burma)
In my country, neighbours are helpful. In Singapore, neighbours are just like strangers. I find it weird that people need to apply for a licence to sing in the underground pathways. Here, the elderly still need to work. So pitiful!
Mr Lee Choe Kum, 60s, Storekeeper (Singaporean)
No, I am dealing with stresses of work and all these high cost of living, such as housing loan, food, transportation, health/medical and daily needs, are straining me.
Ms Angela Teo, 25, Accounts Executive (Singaporean)
Yes, in a way, I am happy. Though the cost of living is getting higher in Singapore, but compared to other countries, we have no natural disasters like earthquake. And Singapore is a safe country, so I will not complain.
Mr Tang C K, 38, Sales Executive (Singaporean)
I’m not very happy because life is not up to my expectation. I am single, and I cannot afford to [own] any property due to rocketing prices. I am not happy with the high influx of foreigners, and the traffic congestion.
Ms Shirley Ong, 40s, Administration (Singaporean)
Singapore’s job market is getting competitive. It is hard getting a good job. We have to compete against the foreigners. Companies are cutting cost; I did not even receive my bonus and pay increment last year.
Ms Lisa Ng, 40s, Accounts Manager (Singaporean)
I feel that we have more work and life pressure in Singapore now. Everything is so expensive, especially the housing and petrol. ———————————————————-
Symphony Orchestra Shen Yun (Music of Yi ethnic group)