UN group: Hungary drops in well-being index

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In the leadup to the United Nations General Assembly meeting of heads of state beginning next Monday, UN global initiative group Sustainable Development Solutions Network released its World Happiness Report 2013, including country-by-country rankings based on certain measures of well-being. The report leads by describing the report as “further strengthen[ing] the case that well-being should be a critical component of how the world measures its economic and social development.” If so, Hungary has some work to do: Would you believe placement of 110th on a list of 156?

“Well-being,” for purposes of the study, was measured on a scale of 1-10 and consisted of scoring in categories including life expectancy, perception of corruption, GDP per capita, “freedom to make life choices,” social support and “generosity.” Hungary’s standing at no. 110 and score of 4.775 placed the country behind Bangladesh (4.804) and Laos (4.787), but ahead of India (4.772), Mauritania (4.758) and the Palestinian Territories (4.700) (!). Among European Union member states, only Bulgaria at a lowly 144th placed lower than Hungary.

Perhaps even more worrisome – if the objective-seeming measurement criteria are to be believed in – is that Hungary’s score in the survey dropped for the period 2010-2012 from the period 2005-2007.

At the top of the table, Europe dominated with eight entries in the top nine. Denmark, Norway, Switzerland, Netherlands and Sweden made up the top five, followed by Canada, Finland, Austria and Iceland.

Read PR material in part, “The Report shows significant changes in happiness in countries ... There is some evidence of global convergence of happiness levels, with happiness gains more common in Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America, and losses more common among the industrial countries. For the 130 countries with data available, happiness (as measured by people’s own evaluations of their lives) significantly improved in 60 countries and worsened in 41.”

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