Pakistan's Happiness Index Score Suffers Steep Decline Amid COVID19 Pandemic
Amid the COVID19 pandemic, Pakistan's World Happiness ranking has dropped from 66 (score 5.693) among 153 nations last year to 105 (score 4.934) among 149 nations ranked this year. Neighboring India is ranked 139 and Afghanistan is last at 149. Nepal is ranked 87, Bangladesh 101, Pakistan 105, Myanmar126 and Sri Lanka129. Finland retained the top spot for happiness and the United States ranks 19th.
|Pakistan Happiness Index Trend 2013-2021|
One of the key reasons for decline of happiness in Pakistan is that the country was forced to significantly devalue its currency as part of the IMF bailout it needed to deal with a severe balance-of-payments crisis. The rupee devaluation sparked inflation, particularly food and energy inflation. Global food prices also soared by double digits amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to Bloomberg News. Bloomberg Agriculture Subindex, a measure of key farm goods futures contracts, is up almost 20% since June. It may in part be driven by speculators in the commodities markets. These rapid price rises have hit the people in Pakistan and the rest of the world hard. In spite of these hikes, Pakistan remains among the least expensive places for food, according to recent studies. It is important for Pakistan's federal and provincial governments to rise up to the challenge and relieve the pain inflicted on the average Pakistani consumer.
The year 2020 has been a tough year for the world as the COVID19 pandemic has taken a heavy toll both in terms of physical and economic health of the people. Jeffrey Sachs, a development economist who contributed to the report, addressed the impact of the pandemic by saying: “We need urgently to learn from COVID-19. The pandemic reminds us of our global environmental threats, the urgent need to cooperate, and the difficulties of achieving cooperation in each country and globally. The World Happiness Report 2021 reminds us that we must aim for wellbeing rather than mere wealth, which will be fleeting indeed if we don’t do a much better job of addressing the challenges of sustainable development.”
|Pakistan Happiness Trend 2005-2021. Source: World Happiness Report 2021|
The World Happiness Report 2021 uses metrics such as GDP, social support, personal freedom and levels of corruption to give each nation a happiness score, which is an average of the past three years. But unlike in the past years, this year the index included surveys on how countries have dealt with the COVID19 pandemic.
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na ho jis ko ḳhayāl aap apnī hālat ke badalne kā
It's better to light a candle than curse darkness!
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“They don’t have the space to either spend the money or borrow the money from markets and sustain their businesses and households,” said (Pakistan-born) Masood Ahmed, president of the Center for Global Development.
The International Monetary Fund is expected to deliver some good news Tuesday — the worldwide economic expansion this year will be higher than it had last predicted, somewhere north of 5.5%. But the global financial institution also has a word of caution: That number is hiding a lot of unequal growth. We’re not all getting out of the pandemic at the same time. And that may leave lasting damage.
In a speech ahead of the IMF’s week of meetings, Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva had this simple warning: “The U.S. is looking good, India is looking good, China is looking good. Ah, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Russia, and parts of Western Europe are not so good.”
Latin America’s in trouble too. The dividing line between rich and poor countries isn’t neat and tidy, said Adam Posen at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.
Part of this global divergence is in the coronavirus vaccine — some, mostly rich, countries have a lot of it. Most middle-income and poor countries have very little.
But vaccines fight the virus. To fight recession, you also need money — for example, trillions of dollars in stimulus — which lots of countries don’t have.
“They don’t have the space to either spend the money or borrow the money from markets and sustain their businesses and households,” said Masood Ahmed, president of the Center for Global Development.
There’s also a cruel irony in the U.S.’ rapid economic recovery. As it and other countries spend their way to health, interest rates rise.
“It tightens global financial conditions, and it means that emerging markets can experience capital outflows,” said Nathan Sheets, chief economist at PGIM Fixed Income.
Meaning that as richer countries heal, it makes it a little harder for some poorer ones to do so.
The simple misery index has been modified by other economists like Robert Barro of Harvard and recently by Steve Hanke of Johns Hopkins University. In Hanke’s formulation lending rates are added because higher lending rates cause misery. Growth in real per capita GDP is subtracted as it causes happiness. This formulation helps make a country by country comparison easier. Hanke has calculated this index for 156 countries for 2020 and ranked these countries from the most to the least miserable.
Venezuela ranks first (most miserable) and its neighbour, Guyana ranks 156 (least miserable or most happy). Why was Guyana most happy in 2020? It struck oil in 2019 and as a result, real GDP per capita increased by 25.8pc in 2020. Next to Venezuela in misery are Zimbabwe and Sudan. And next to Guyana in happiness are Taiwan and Qatar. As we are always obsessed with comparisons with India, it may not hurt us to know that India is higher in misery (index 35.8, rank 39) than Pakistan (index 32.5, rank 49.) Bangladesh is better than both India and Pakistan with a misery index of 14 and rank of 129.
According to the report, Pakistan is at number 103 on the happiness index, climbing 18 spots as compared to the previous list in which the South Asian nation was ranked at 121.
Meanwhile, neighbouring India ranked lowest in Asia as Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka ranked above the second most populated nation.
Some of the parameters used for assessment include the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita in terms of Purchasing Power Parity, generosity, people’s perception of corruption and freedom, social support, health and life expectancy at birth.
Report finds that stressful jobs, sheer competition, family issues, health complications, inflation and several other factors cost us our happiness.
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