The results are in and it’s official. Australians are becoming increasingly unhappy.
Australia has dropped out of the top-10 happiest countries for the first time in the newly released 2019 World Happiness Report, while frosty Finland retained its top spot for a second straight year.
Sitting in 11th place, Australia has moved down two places since 2016.
Perhaps most troubling for the Morrison government, facing a federal election in May, was the finding that the unhappiness of citizens directly translates into voting intentions.
“Happier people are not only more likely to engage in politics and vote, but are also more likely to vote for incumbent parties,” the report found.
“There appears to be a significant electoral dividend to improving societal happiness, beyond ensuring a buoyant economic situation.”
New Zealand, grappling with last week’s devastating Christchurch mosque terror attacks, is three places ahead of its trans-Tasman neighbour in eighth spot for a third consecutive year.
Released by the United Nations late Wednesday night, the report ranks countries on six key variables: income, freedom, trust, healthy life expectancy, social support and generosity.
This year’s report had a special focus on “happiness and the community”, considering factors such as social media and technology, social norms, conflicts and government policies.
“How communities interact with each other, whether in schools, workplaces, neighbourhoods or on social media, has profound effects on world happiness,” University of British Columbia professor John Helliwell, a co-editor of the report, said.
Among other factors going into the assessment were gross domestic product per capita, healthy life expectancy, generosity, social support, freedom to make life choices, and perceptions of corruption.
The top-four happiest countries based on these criteria were all Nordic nations, with Denmark in second place, followed by Norway and Iceland.
The Netherlands was fifth happiest, with Switzerland sixth, Sweden seventh. Canada came in ninth, with Austria replacing Australia in 10th spot.
But of course it could be a lot worse for Australia, with American respondents pushing the United States to 19th place, a drop of five spots since 2017.
The United Kingdom, embroiled in Brexit uncertainty, surprisingly jumped three spots to 15th, while Japan was in 58th place (down from 54th) and China came in 93rd place (down from 86th).
Trailing the World Happiness list were Rwanda, Tanzania, Afghanistan, the Central African Republic, and South Sudan.
2019 World Happiness Rankings