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Filipinos are happier than Chinese. That’s according to the recently published 2019 World Happiness Report, which ranks Philippines in the 69th position, and China in the 93trd position.
The World Happiness Report ranks 156 countries by combining quantitative data, such as per capita GDP growth; and qualitative data, such as social support, freedom to make life choices, and perceptions of corruption.
Philippines’s climb in the happiness rankings is consistent with a Gallup survey, which finds an increase in the percentage of Filipinos who consider their life positive enough to rate it as “thriving” in recent years.
Specifically, 28% of Filipinos consider themselves thriving in 2017 compared to 26% in 2016, pushing the Philippines up one notch in the ranking of the Asian-Pacific countries, as was discussed in a previous piece here.
Philippines’ big edge in the happiness ranking over China may come as a surprise to some emerging market observers. China is the world’s second largest economy, with a per capita GDP close to four times that of the Philippines; and a major investor in the Philippines infrastructure projects.
Equity markets of the two countries do not seem to have taken notice, trading on economic rather than happiness fundamentals.
What makes Filipinos happier than Chinese? An improvement in the ways the Philippines government provides social services, according to Courtney Rickert McCaffrey, manager of thought leadership in strategy and management consulting firm A.T. Kearney’s Global Business Policy Council.
“The happiness levels of both Filipinos and Chinese have been rising in recent years, but Filipinos have made larger gains—particularly in the past two years,” says McCaffrey. “This appears to be driven at least in part by an improvement in the quality of government services delivery and Filipinos’ healthy life expectancy. And, overall, the Philippines scores much higher than China on the social support measure of national happiness.”
There’s one more area where the Philippines ranks higher than China, “Adventure,” as described in the 2018 U.S. News & World Report, applies nine criteria to come up with its list of the 80 Best Counties.
“Adventure,” includes such characterizations as “friendly, fun, pleasant climate, and scenic beauty,” which relate to the feelings of happiness.
Apparently, today’s Philippines has maintained something from the glory days of the 1960s, though it has been bypassed in per capita GDP by China.