Photo caption: Taiwan ranks 33rd globally and third in Asia in the 2017 World Happiness Report published March 20. (Staff photo/Huang Chung-hsin)

Taiwan moved up two places to rank 33rd globally and third in Asia in the latest edition of the World Happiness Report released March 20 by the U.N. Sustainable Development Solutions Network, marking the nation’s highest-ever position in the survey. [/restrict]

The 2017 report assessed happiness in 155 countries primarily by asking roughly 1,000 citizens annually from 2014-2016 to rate their life satisfaction on a scale of 0 to 10. Among Asian nations, Taiwan finished behind only Singapore in 26th and Thailand in 32nd, while topping Malaysia in 42nd, Japan in 51st, South Korea in 56th, Hong Kong in 71st and mainland China in 79th.

According to the index, the happiest country in the world is Norway, followed by Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, Finland, the Netherlands, Canada and New Zealand, with Australia and Sweden tied in 9th position. Bottom of the list is war-torn Central African Republic, below Burundi, Tanzania, Syria, Rwanda, Togo, Guinea, Liberia, South Sudan and Yemen, in that order.

Launched in 2012, the World Happiness Report aims to review the science of measuring and understanding subjective well-being. Five editions have been published to date, with Taiwan’s ranking improving in each from 46th in the first report to its current position of 33rd.

In addition to assessing global happiness, this year’s report emphasized the importance of the social foundations of happiness by comparing the life experiences between the top and bottom 10 countries. It also lent further credence to existing findings that happiness is supported by seven main factors: caring, freedom, generosity, good governance, health, honesty and income.

“The World Happiness Report continues to draw global attention around the need to create sound policy for what matters most to people—their well-being,” said Jeffrey Sachs, director of the SDSN. “This report gives evidence that happiness is a result of creating strong social foundations.”

In 2012, the U.N. General Assembly declared March 20 as World Happiness Day, recognizing “happiness and well-being as universal goals and aspirations in the lives of human beings around the world.” The first World Happiness Report was published to coincide with the U.N. High Level Meeting on happiness and well-being in April the same year. (KH-E) [/restrict]