Israel ranked 11th-happiest country in the world, ahead of U.S.

Israel’s native population actually has a relatively low emotional well-being. In a ranking based on net affect, Israel ranked 107th out of 156 countries.

March 5, 2019 14:30
2 minute read.
Prime Minister binyamin Netanyahu laughing during a meeting with Swiss FM Didier Burkhalter, May 2.

Bibi laughing hysterically 370. (photo credit: Moshe Milner GPO)


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Israel is the 11th happiest country in the world according to Gallup’s 2018 World Happiness Report (WHR).

The high ranking is largely due to GDP per capita, social support and healthy life expectancy. Social support is measured by the response to the question “If you were in trouble, do you have relatives or friends you can count on to help you whenever you need them, or not?”

Israel’s change in happiness was, however, actually slightly negative in the 2015-2017 period compared to the 2008-2010 period.

In comparison, the United States ranked as 18th happiest country with a slightly more significant decrease in happiness compared to Israel. Finland was ranked the happiest country in the poll, while the lowest ranking country in the poll of 156 countries was Burundi.

Gallup ranked the potential increase in population in each country with the Potential Net Migration Index (PNMI). The PNMI is measured from the number of adults who could potentially move out and the number of adults who could potentially move into the country.

Israel could see a potential 16% increase in population if all those who expressed a desire to immigrate follow through. The PNMI in the 2010-2012 period was 3%, marking a 13% rise since then. The potential population increase includes a 13% rise in the number of highly educated residents and a 15% rise in the number of young (15 to 29 year old) residents.

In general, Israeli residents who were born abroad are less happy than residents born in the country. Immigrants to the United States are about as happy as residents born in the country, while immigrants to Finland, the happiest country, are actually, on average, happier than native-born residents.

Interestingly, Russian-born migrants to Israel consider their lives in Israel much more positive than their lives in Russia, but simultaneously experience adverse outcomes in terms of net affect, meaning the total sum of average positive and negative experience.

In general, Israel received relatively high life evaluations, but Israel’s native population actually has a relatively low emotional well-being. In a ranking based on net affect in the period 2005-2011, Israel ranked 107th out of 156 countries, a sizeable difference compared to its ranking in the overall happiness report.

Positive affect in the study was judged by asking respondents if they frequently experienced enjoyment, laughter or happiness the day before the interview, while negative affect was judged by asking if respondents frequently experienced worry, sadness, and anger the day before the interview.

The Palestinian territories ranked low on the report at 104th place, but did experience a slight increase in happiness compared to the 2008-2010 period.

The territories have a negative score on the PNMI, with a potential 20% loss in residents due to migration, with a potential 27% loss of highly educated residents and a 28% loss of young residents.

Over 944 million people worldwide have either left, or would like to leave, the country they were born in, according to the WHR, which focused greatly on migration.

In general, the largest migrations in recent years were into Europe, North America, and the Gulf States.

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