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Zimbabwe has a Happiness deficit – report

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Zimbabwe has a Happiness deficit – report

Very few Zimbabweans knew that it was International Day of Happiness yesterday. The day was just like any other to the majority of the country’s citizenry. While the United Nations says “it’s a day to be happy, of course!”, some were probably not happy at all, perhaps frustrated by failure to get cash at the bank after waiting in a long queue for a while, or any other reason…the politics maybe or hopelessness.

However, since 2013, the United Nations has celebrated the International Day of Happiness as a way to recognise the importance of happiness in the lives of people around the world. They also took advantage of the Day to release a report on the state of happiness in the world.

And the sad thing is that Zimbabwe is nowhere near the happiest people on earth, according to 2017 World Happiness Report issued by a United Nations agency. Forget about trade deficit, budget deficit, you name it, for a while, let’s talk about happiness deficit in Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe ranked poorly in this year’s happiness index, which averaged rankings of happiness over the years 2014 to 2016. The country was ranked number 138 out of 155 in the world, with a score of 3,875 points and was beaten by countries such as Iraq. In Africa, Zimbabwe was ranked number 31 out of 44, and was beaten by Zambia (116), Mozambique (113), Sudan (130) and Malawi (136).

To explain happiness differences among countries, the index mainly looks at key variables such as GDP per capita, healthy years of life expectancy, social support, trust (as measured by a perceived absence of corruption in government and business), perceived freedom to make life decisions; and generosity (as measured by recent donations).

The report used the example of Zimbabwe to prove that changes in lived poverty and happiness over time are associated.

“Zimbabwe, formerly a breadbasket in southern Africa and now often regarded as a failed state, where unemployment and poverty are endemic and political strife and repression are commonplace, has experienced some poverty relief in daily life over the past decade”, said the report.

“The drop in Zimbabwe’s lived poverty score of 0.61 points is matched by a corresponding increase of 0.64 points in its happiness score”, said the report. Last year, Zimbabwe was hit by an El Nino induced drought which left millions of people hungry.

The report also opined that people living in Africa have, over time, developed the optimism that many things will change for the better, to make daily hassles and hardships tolerable.

“A series of studies of democracy and happiness in the authoritarian states of Chad and Zimbabwe suggest that even when the demand for democracy in Africa is not matched by satisfaction with living conditions, discontent is tempered by optimism for the future”, the report says.

It was particularly referring to a 2005 study conducted in Zimbabwe, which classified 45 percent of respondents as very democratic and a further 36 percent as democratic. “Only 11 percent of Zimbabweans were satisfied with life at present, but twice as many (22 percent) thought they would feel satisfied with life in ten years’ time”, said the report.

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