Hong Kong has dropped five spots to rank 76th in the United Nations’ annual world happiness rankings, falling below Pakistan and just above Portugal.

Nordic nations occupied the top four spots in the study by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, with Finland ranking as the happiest nation on Earth, followed by Norway, Denmark, and Iceland.

“All the top countries tend to have high values for all six of the key variables that have been found to support well-being: income, healthy life expectancy, social support, freedom, trust and generosity,” the report said.

hong kong people street
Photo: Citizen News.

Hong Kong ranked 71st last year and 75th in 2016.

Rankings are based on a Gallup world poll in which respondents were asked to rank their lives on a scale from zero to ten, in which zero was the worst life possible for them and ten was the best possible life.

Taiwan was the happiest Asian country, rising to 26th from number 33. Singapore ranked 34, and mainland China ranked 86th.

The report also ranked the happiness levels of immigrants for the first time. For migrants from China, their evaluations of their lives increased by an average of 0.36 after moving to Hong Kong. This is compared to the global average of a 0.47 increase, which implies that migrants report about a 9 per cent increase in happiness after migration.

The report found that countries’ rankings according to the happiness of their immigrant populations is almost exactly the same as for the rest of the population – meaning that the happiness of immigrants tends to depend predominantly on the quality of life in their new country of residence, though researchers also noted a “footprint” effect from the happiness levels of their home countries.

In a typical country, immigrants are about as happy as local-born people, with a difference of under 0.1 out of ten. But in Hong Kong, the report showed a more pronounced gap between the average happiness of domestic-born citizens – 5.63 – and immigrants – 4.963.

“The countries with the happiest immigrants are not the richest countries, but instead the countries with a more balanced set of social and institutional supports for better lives,” the report said.

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catherine lai

Catherine Lai

Catherine is a Canadian journalist and photographer who lived in Beijing for almost two years, working in TV and online media. Aside from Hong Kong and mainland affairs, she is also interested in urban spaces, art and feminism. She holds a BA in Literature and Art History from the University of British Columbia.