By Charles Montgomery
The 2018 Global Happiness Policy Report is out. This time, the report contains practical solutions for governments and cities interested in boosting wellbeing.
We were thrilled to be asked to contribute to this report as part of the sub-council on Happy Cities. We are proud to say that we were able to infuse the report with real-world examples of people using smart city solutions to boost equity, inclusion and health.
It’s important to note the report’s main conclusion. That happiness policy isn’t just about good cheer. It’s about creating the conditions for everyone to enjoy a better life. How do we get there? Here’s a summary worth paying attention to:
“A country’s ranking on happiness depends on six key conditions: economic prosperity, including decent work for all who want it; the physical and mental health of the citizens; freedom of individuals to make key life decisions; strong and vibrant social support networks (social capital); shared public values of generosity; and social trust, including confidence in the honesty of business and government.
“It’s no accident, for example, that the Scandinavian countries routinely top the list of happiest countries in the annual World Happiness Report. These countries are prosperous, healthy, and trusting. Corruption is low. Generosity is high. Individuals feel empowered to make key life choices. The social welfare state limits the inequalities between wealth and poverty, and delivers public services to all citizens. The rich do not run politics.
“On the other hand, in some other high-income countries, the happiness ranking is far lower. Wealth may be high, but the wealth is accompanied by an excessive inequality of income, wealth, and political power. Trust, as a result, is often reduced by high inequalities of income.”
So happier countries are fairer, freer, more trusting, and more equal. Cities can help.