- Afghanistan was ranked last among 149 countries surveyed in the World Happiness Report, which was released ahead of the UN-designated International Day of Happiness on Sunday.
- For the fourth year in a row, Finland ranked first, followed by Denmark and Switzerland, with Iceland and the Netherlands rounding out the top five.
Afghanistan is the unhappiest country in the world – even before the Taliban swept to power last August. That is according to a so-called World Happiness report released ahead of the UN-designated International Day of Happiness on Sunday.
The annual report ranked Afghanistan as last among 149 countries surveyed, with a happiness rate of just 2.5. Lebanon was the world’s second saddest country, with Botswana, Rwanda and Zimbabwe rounding out the bottom five. Finland ranked first for the fourth year running with a 7.8 score, followed by Denmark and Switzerland, with Iceland and the Netherlands also in the top five.
After analyzing data for three years, researchers ranked the countries. They looked at several factors, including GDP per capita, social safety nets, life expectancy, freedom to make life choices, population generosity, and perceptions of internal and external corruption levels.
Afghanistan performed poorly in all six categories, a perplexing result given that it occurred prior to the Taliban’s arrival and despite 20 years of US and international investment.
According to reports by the US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan, the US has spent $145 billion on development in Afghanistan since 2002.
Nonetheless, there were signs of growing despair.
Gallup conducted a poll in 2018 and discovered that few Afghans polled had much hope for the future. In fact, the vast majority of respondents said they had no hope for the future.
Years of rampant corruption, increased poverty, a lack of jobs, a steady increase in the number of people living below the poverty line, and erratic development have all contributed to a crushing malaise, according to analyst Nasratullah Haqpal. Most Afghans had high hopes after the Taliban were deposed and the US-led coalition declared victory in 2001.
“Unfortunately, the only focus was on the war, warlords, and corrupt politicians,” Haqpal explained.