Happiest countries in Asia 2021


Some of these countries have handled the pandemic well, others not. It made almost no difference in the way people rated their satisfaction with life.


The 2021 edition of the World Happiness Report specifically explored how some Asian countries such as China and South Korea have managed to withstand the pandemic better than others in the region and how emotional well-being of the population has been affected by the policy. Their success in containing Covid-19 can be attributed to better civic cooperation compared to their government responses. These measures included strict rules for controlling mobility and physical distance, as well as comprehensive testing, tracing and isolation policies. In contrast, the weaker strategies put in place by Japan have been associated with one of the worst performances on the continent.

Yet some positive results in tackling the spread of the virus – as the experience of other countries around the world has also proven – did not necessarily translate into significant jumps to the top positions of the index. happiness, in the same way that poor results have not led to dramatic declines. in ranking.

2020 has brought so much pain and so many challenges for everyone, it is only natural to associate the idea of ​​happiness (or the lack thereof) with the small (or large) loss of Covid-19 on our lives. However, there are many things that go into determining one’s satisfaction with life, which is also why the averages for the 149 countries studied in the report were found to be remarkably stable from before the start of the pandemic.

GDP per capita, social support when needed, absence of corruption in government, healthy life expectancy, freedom to make life choices, generosity or charity towards others: these are the six key variables used by researchers to assess the well-being of people. With one clear thing to remember: No matter what hurdle life throws at us, a balance of all of these ingredients is the real recipe for long-term happiness.


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If we look at the GDP per capita figures, the Philippines is far behind countries like Indonesia, China or Malaysia. If we look at the Global Happiness Index, the Philippines is way ahead of all of them.

In truth, Filipinos felt less happy in 2020 than the year before, when they were in fifty-second place in the rankings. Despite this mistake, the country of about 110 million people has shown one of the biggest improvements in the United Nations rankings, climbing more than 30 positions in less than a decade.

The reason why the Philippines outperforms many richer countries on the continent appears to be the result of increased incomes, confidence in public institutions, and life expectancy. Filipinos also score great in the personal relationships category – or, as one expert online commented a while ago, when it comes to the five F’s: family, friends, food, fun and faith.

# 4 | JAPAN

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When the pandemic struck, the World Happiness Report notes, the Japanese government did not implement mobility control measures such as lockdowns due to certain constitutional limits. Subsequent changes in the law made it possible to declare a “state of emergency”, but most of the recommendations remained voluntary rather than mandatory. Testing has also not been extensive, but targeted only to people with potential symptoms. This resulted in a spike in cases and deaths. , alongside a 4.8% drop in the economy in 2020, the first contraction since 2009.

“Japan is as happy as it looks – miserable,” was a headline published a few years ago by The Japan Times. Perhaps that was an exaggeration, but there is no doubt that there is cause for concern: the country is more and more unequal, the population is aging rapidly and the government – to cope with a sudden rise in suicides – recently named its premier “loneliness minister”. . “

Nevertheless, Japan has gained six places in the happiness index compared to the previous edition of the report. Not only that, on a scale of 1 to 10, taking into account the six variables that contribute to happiness, its citizens rated their satisfaction with life at around 6, the highest since 2015. How to explain this? Apparently even the Japanese couldn’t.


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Thailand was troubled last year by anti-government protests, a devastating drought across the country and the collapse of the tourism sector caused by a pandemic. Despite all this, the country’s global happiness ranking has remained unchanged.

Healthy life expectancy, freedom to make life choices and interpersonal relationships: these are the categories in which Thailand tends to perform well. Despite all the challenges, he continued to do it the same way he did in previous years.


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Singapore is one of the ultra-rich countries in the world, why isn’t it also ultra-happy then? There is no reason to complain about ranking second in Asia and thirty-second in the world, but there are much poorer countries that score much higher on the index. happiness.

The old adage that money doesn’t buy happiness can be tired and overused, but an overwhelming number of studies have proven it time and time again. In the World Happiness Report, Singapore does indeed very well in income, institutional confidence and healthy life expectancy as well, but not so well in the categories of generosity to others and strength of support. social. Personal relationships, not money, are the real overloads of happiness.

# 1 | TAIWAN

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Taiwan has become accustomed to scoring high in the World Happiness Report when it comes to GDP per capita, life expectancy and social support – the latter reflecting a society where multigenerational families often live together. and community is valued over individuality.

Taiwan has also done an impressive job of stopping the pandemic on track early on, and has never locked itself in. This success saw the country move up one place in the rankings compared to last year, bringing it a little closer – if you consider the entire Asia-Pacific region – to New Zealand and the United States. Australia, respectively in 9th and 11th places in the world ranking.

However, all is not happy on this island of about 24 million inhabitants: Taiwan has been independent since 1949, but China considers it a separatist province. In recent years, Beijing has stepped up military activities and flown fighter jets near the island, heightening fears of trying to regain control of its former territory.

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overall rank

Regional rank


24 1 Taiwan
32 2 Singapore
54 3 Thailand
56 4 Japan
61 5 Philippines
62 6 South Korea
70 7 Mongolia
77 8 Hong Kong SAR of China
79 9 Vietnam
81 ten Malaysia
84 11 Indonesia
87 12 China
89 13 Nepal
100 14 Maldives
105 15 Laos
114 16 Bangladesh
126 17 Pakistan
129 18 Cambodia
139 19 Myanmar
149 20 Sri Lanka
121 21 India
122 22 Afghanistan
Source: UN World Happiness Report 2021.

About Emilie Brandow

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