HARARE – While eccentric Zanu PF legislator Joseph Chinotimba was recently appointed Zimbabwe’s ambassador of happiness, ironically, Zimbabweans are an unhappy lot, a latest survey has revealed.
The country — whose citizens have borne the pain of lurching from one economic crisis to another over the past decade — has been ranked 144 out of 156 nations in the 2018 World Happiness Report (WHR).
The WHR — compiled by a group of independent experts from the London School of Economics and Political Science, Canadian Institute for Advanced Research and Columbia University — is a landmark survey of the state of global happiness, which ranks countries by the happiness levels of their citizens and inhabitants.
In the top five of the ranking is Finland as number one, followed by Norway, Denmark, Iceland and Switzerland.
No African country is in the top 10.
While Zimbabwe ranked 144, its neighbours; South Africa, Botswana and Zambia were 105, 146 and 125 respectively.
Nicolas Maduro’s economic ravaged Venezuela was ranked 102.
Happiness can change, and does change, according to the quality of the society in which people live.
“All the top countries tend to have high values for all six of the key variables that have been found to support well-being: income, healthy life expectancy, social support, freedom, trust and generosity. Among the top countries, differences are small enough that year-to-year changes in the rankings are to be expected,” the report said.
“The analysis of happiness changes…shows Togo as the biggest gainer, moving up 17 places in the overall rankings from the last place position it held as recently as in the 2015 rankings. The biggest loser is Venezuela, down 2.2 points on the 0 to 10 scale,” it said.
It said “perhaps the most striking finding of the whole report is that a ranking of countries according to the happiness of their immigrant populations is almost exactly the same as for the rest of the population”, adding that “countries with the happiest immigrants are not the richest, but instead the countries with a more balanced set of social and institutional supports for better lives”.
“Finland is at the top of both rankings in this report, with the happiest immigrants, and the happiest population in general.”
The survey added: “The importance of social factors in the happiness of all populations whether migrant or not… depends on the greater warmth of family and other social relationships there, and to the greater importance that people there attach to these relationships.”
“In conclusion, there are large gaps in happiness between countries, and these will continue to create major pressures to migrate,” the report said.
The report also studied causes of push and pull factors in rural-urban migration, which have a bearing on happiness.
Last month, Chinotimba — popularly known as Cde Chinoz — and television talk show presenter Rebecca “Mai Chisamba” Chisamba represented Zimbabwe at the World Summit on Happiness in Dubai.