It's official: Norway has toppled Denmark to become the world's happiest country in 2017. Or, to put in local linguistic terms, the world's lykkeligste country. This year's rankings, which came this morning to coincide with the International Day of Happiness, surely has left more than one Danish unhappy, or ulykkelig (yes, Norwegian and Danish languages are close).
The World Happiness Report is an annual UN survey which ranks 155 countries by their state of global happiness, based on criteria including GDP per capita, life expectancy, freedom to make life choices, generosity and public trust. As expected, developed Western nations dominate the list, and nations of the African continent make up most of the bottom part. Worse, the report shows that "only two African countries have made significant gains in happiness over the past decade": Sierra Leone and Cameroon. A situation that booming demographics are unlikely to change.
Ethiopia, which ranked 119 and where a state of emergency was imposed in mid-2016 amid student protests, is a good indicator of the continent's current situation. As Italian journalist Enrico Caporale reports for La Stampa, the country has one of the highest population growth rates in the continent and it "is projected to reach 210 million people in 2060, up from the current 99 million." And like many other African countries, the former Italian colony is being caught in a vice between Chinese "neocolonialism" and a process of "Islamization" fostered by Gulf monarchies.
"Outside the airport, at the first traffic light, my taxi jockeys for position with a economy car driven by a man who appears to be Chinese. ‘Since they began arriving a few years ago I see them everywhere," my Ethiopian taxi driver complains. ‘We used to call white people ferenji, which means foreigner, but now we mainly use it for the Chinese. They've built everything here."
Back in China, there is little doubt that this expansion abroad has helped accelerate a quarter-century of rather stunning economic growth. But how has the rise to becoming the world's No. 2 economy translated on the happy front? Monday's UN report notes that China remains stuck down in the 79th slot on the World Happiness Report, demonstrably no happier than they were before the economic boom. 伤心 Sad.