The World Happiness Report 2018 is the annual report published by the U.N. Sustainable Development Solutions Network and as a relatively new survey of the state of happiness in the world of 2018, gives an idea of the state of the world’s countries per the resulting ranking of 156 countries by their happiness levels, and 117 countries by the happiness of their immigrants. This ranking graph would perhaps be the most sought-after outcome of such an endeavour.

Where is Happiness in 2018 ?

In few words, this year’s report zeroed in, in addition to its usual “ranking of the levels and changes in happiness around the world, on migration within and between countries”.

The MENA region amongst other regions of the world was assessed in its own right and the resulting ranking is below :

  • ·         Israel                                      11th
  • ·         United Arab Emirates             20th
  • ·         Qatar                                      32nd
  • ·         Saudi Arabia                         33rd
  • ·         Bahrain                                  43;
  • ·         Kuwait                                    45
  • ·         Libya                                      70
  • ·         Turkey                                    74
  • ·         Algeria                                   84
  • ·         Morocco                                 85
  • ·         Lebanon                                88
  • ·         Jordan                                    90
  • ·         Palestinian territories            104
  • ·         Iran                                         106
  • ·         Tunisia                                   111
  • ·         Iraq                                         117
  • ·         Egypt                                      122
  • ·         Syria                                       150

Apart from some countries that unexpected ranked high such as Algeria and way down such as Lebanon, Egypt and Tunisia, most ranking in our view tend to reflect quite diligently wat is going on the respective countries ground. The reasons obvious for some countries are not exactly as clear as one would think as off one’s deep knowledge of the region. It remains in any way that generally the proposed ranking would be in correlation with the movement of populations or migration as labelled in the report as literally the resulting effect of all those socio-political and economical mutations that each country is going through in its own specific way.

The report dwelling on migration found that people’s tolerance as a predominant character trait towards newcomers could be that whilst the least accepting countries were amongst those of Europe, four were from the MENA region and are Israel, Egypt, Iraq and Jordan. Those most accepting are of course those of the GCC, whose settled populations are overwhelmingly foreign born.

The report goes on to wonder “What determines the happiness of immigrants living in different countries and coming from different, other countries?

Three striking facts emerge.

  1. In the typical country, immigrants are about as happy as people born locally. 
  2. The happiness of each migrant depends not only on the happiness of locals but also on the level of happiness in the migrant’s country of origin.
  3. The happiness of immigrants also depends importantly on how accepting the locals are towards immigrants.

Further to the  above, we excerpted this piece of the report’s Chapter 1 Happiness and Migration: An Overview that best illustrates what such study was all about.

In conclusion, there are large gaps in happiness between countries, and these will continue to create major pressures to migrate. Some of those who migrate between countries will benefit and others will lose. In general, those who move to happier countries than their own will gain in happiness, while those who move to unhappier countries will tend to lose. Those left behind will not on average lose, although once again there will be gainers and losers. Immigration will continue to pose both opportunities and costs for those who move, for those who remain behind, and for natives of the immigrant- receiving countries.

Where immigrants are welcome and where they integrate well, immigration works best. A more tolerant attitude in the host country will prove best for migrants and for the original residents. But there are clearly limits to the annual flows which can be accommodated without damage to the social fabric that provides the very basis of the country’s attraction to immigrants. One obvious solution, which has no upper limit, is to raise the happiness of people in the sending countries – perhaps by the traditional means of foreign aid and better access to rich-country markets, but more importantly by helping them to grow their own levels of trust, and institutions of the sort that make possible better lives in the happier countries.