The coronavirus pandemic has dropped Brazil in the WHR happiness ranking, a study group coordinated among others by economist Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University (USA), at the University’s Research Center for Wellness Oxford (UK) and the London School of Economics and Political Science Welfare Program.
Considering only the year 2020, Brazil was in 41st place out of 95 countries studied by the Gallup Institute. In the WHR 2019 ranking (which uses the average of the previous three years), it occupied the 29th position.
Using this comparison, Brazilians were relatively more dissatisfied (i.e. they lost positions in the ranking) more strongly than their mainland neighbors. The Argentines went from 45º to 47º, the Chileans, from 34º to 38º (surpassed Brazil), and the Uruguayans, from 25º to 30º.
This year’s work only used this comparison with 2020 to be able to observe the specific impact of the pandemic. But the discontent caused by the pandemic caused the country to retreat as well when considering the average result from 2018 to 2020, according to the WHR methodology. In this comparison, Brazil lost six points, in 35th place.
Regardless of the cut, Finland continued to occupy the first place in the study, which aims to offer a way to compare the sense of well-being of populations and to serve as a tool to assess the impact of public policies. .
In the year of the pandemic, there were two main goals: to observe the effect of Covid-19 on the quality and structure of people’s lives, and to describe and assess how governments around the world have handled the crisis. Researchers are also trying to explain why some countries have done so much better than others.
Immediate access to good examples, effective leadership – able to act quickly and appropriately – and a responsive society are the findings of the study. “Together, our measures of infection risk and our political support combine to explain two-thirds of the differences in death rates between countries,” they say.
Countries with much higher mortality than expected were typically those “where there was skepticism at the highest political level about the severity of the virus.” As an example, the authors cite Brazil and the United States under the Trump administration. Another cause of an excessive rise in deaths was the bogus dispute between health and the economy, a group that also includes Sweden and the UK.
“Evidence from 2020 strongly suggests that countries that prioritized suppressing transmission were also able to perform better in the economic and social dimensions,” they say. This has happened both globally and in individual regions, where disease risk and exposure are more comparable.
The path to success in both fields – in health and economics – has come from rapid and decisive intervention, including testing, screenings, isolation and information on measures to prevent transmission, the researchers say. , such as wearing masks and physical distancing. .
The worst effect of the pandemic on overall measures of happiness has been the 2 million deaths from Covid-19 in 2020, an increase of almost 4% in the annual number of deaths worldwide, which the authors say of the study, represents a serious loss of social welfare.
“For the living there has been greater economic insecurity, anxiety, disruption in all aspects of life and, for many people, stress and challenges to physical and mental health,” they write.
Based on samples from the UK, they have detected sudden changes in positive and negative emotions over the past year, with rapid drops in the toll, there is lockdown, but also rapid recovery when it is withdrawn.
One of the keys to understanding international differences is trust and the ability to rely on others (for example, believing that a lost wallet will be returned).
According to the study’s authors, confidence affects feelings of happiness more than four other things assessed: income, health, freedom and generosity.
For the world as a whole, the most significant change concerns those who said they were sad or worried the day before the survey: the average increase was 10%.
Not being able to work has had a negative impact on well-being, in a year when global GDP fell by an estimated 5% during the biggest economic crisis in decades.
In the study’s calculations, unemployment during the pandemic is associated with a 12% drop in life satisfaction and a 9% increase in negative effects. For inactivity in the labor market, these figures are 6.3% and 5% respectively.
Although young people report lower levels of well-being than other age groups, being unable to work is less severe than among older people, suggesting they might be more optimistic about the opportunities. futures.
The researchers note, however, that their conclusions on the effect of Covid-19 on happiness are provisional, because “the pandemic is still far from over”.
See some rankings in the WHR ranking
Country Placement in 2020 Previous placement * Change in position Finland 1 1 0 Iceland 2 4 2 Denmark 3 2-1 Switzerland 4 3 -1 Netherlands 5 6 1 Sweden 6 7 1 Germany 7 15 8 Norway 8 5-3 New Zealand 9 8 – 1 Austria 10 9-1 (…) Brazil 41 29-12 (…) Kenya 86 84-2 Egypt 87 91 4 Namibia 88 85-3 Myanmar 89 89 0 Benin 90 65-25 Cambodia 91 76 -15 India 92 93 1 Jordan 93 83 -10 Tanzania 94 94 0 Zimbabwe 95 95 0
Source: WHR 2021