South Africa: Unhappy South Africans

South African PassportThe World Happiness Index 2016 ( was released in Rome this week, ahead of World Happiness Day, which took place on 20 March – a day before South Africans celebrated their hard-won Human Rights Day.

However, life in post-apartheid South Africa is apparently not a happy one, with South Africa being ranked 116th out of 157 countries – and slipping three places down from last year. This makes us a sadder place than our immediate neighbour, Namibia and Zambia and interestingly Iraq. But better off than Botswana and worst off country, Liberia. Of our BRIC partners Brazil ranks 17th, Russia takes the 56th spot, India is just below us at 118 and China is a solid performer at 83. The happiest place in the world right now is Denmark – even without enough average sunshine for your ubiquitous Human Rights Day braai.

The list is compiled by looking at six indicators, including GDP per capita, social support, (these first two are not terrible in South Africa), healthy life expectancy (here we start to slip), social freedom, generosity (what happened to Ubuntu?) and perception of corruption (Zuptagate). ‘The scores of these six factors were then compared to “Dystopia” – a hypothetical country that contained all of the worst scores. This acted as a benchmark for the worst possible country.