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Vietnam Moves up 11 Places in UN World Happiness Report

Are you feeling happy today?

If you're living in Vietnam, you are in luck, as the perceived happiness of Vietnamese citizens has moved up 11 places in the United Nations (UN) World Happiness Report.

In the UN's eigtht edition of the report, Vietnam ranked No. 83 out of 156 countries. Finland ranked first for the third year in a row, and Afghanistan, South Sudan and Zimbabwe ranked the lowest. 

This year's report was published on March 20, the International Day of Happiness. The forward explained that the purpose of the Happiness Report is to encourage national governments to "give more importance to happiness and well-being in determining how to achieve and measure social and economic development." The most important source of data for the reports are the life evaluations from the Gallup World Poll, which provide the basis for the annual rankings.

Some of the things that are valued in consideration to happiness are: a healthy life expectancy, GDP per capita, freedom to make life choices, social support, generosity and perceptions of corruption. 

The special focus of the 2020 report was to dig "more deeply into how the social, urban and natural environments combine to affect our happiness." The report found that there is "widespread public concern about the environment" and that access to green spaces is a happiness booster, finding that "moods were better outdoors than indoors."

The report goes into some detail on the theories behind the link between nature and happiness. One of the theories included is biophilia, which hypothesizes that humans have an instinctive impulse to commune with other living organisms and because of this, access to the natural world has a direct impact on happiness.

Putting this in the context of Vietnam, and Saigon in particular, it is easy to see how there is a connection between the dusk-lit exercise classes at your local park, a stroll along the canal, or gazing up at the trees around Turtle Lake and a positive impact on the well-being of the city's inhabitants. 

Interestingly, the report also found that happiness is higher in cities than in rural areas.