NEW YORK, US – illycaffè and Ernesto Illy Foundation for the 5th consecutive year have supported the World Happiness Report, the ranking of the happiest countries in the world. This year the Report has raised to a unique challenge: assessing the impact of the pandemic on individual and social well-being. “With illycaffè and Ernesto Illy Foundation we support the research on happiness to identify the foundations of happiness and implement them in our coffee environment – said Andrea Illy, Chairman of illycaffè and member of the board of directors of Fondazione Ernesto Illy – We believe that happiness is a prerequisite for any transition to a more sustainable society to the point that the well-being of our stakeholders is part of the mission of our company.
This is a substantial responsibility, especially now, when the internal world has to cope with the pandemic, the climate change and, more in general, with the systemic crisis resulting from the current economic and social models.”
The World Happiness Report is published a year from the outbreak of the pandemic
The World Happiness Report is published when Covid-19 is still raging, a year or so since the World Health Organisation officially acknowledged the pandemic. The death toll exceeded two million and in Italy we are facing a new period of strict measures to contain the virus.
The pandemic impact has been different in different countries, also as a result of the policies that each government has implemented and the pre-existing conditions in terms of well-being and trust of the population in their communities.
“We urgently need to learn the lesson that Covid has given us – said Jeffrey D. Sachs, President of the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network, the organisation that has been publishing the annual report for nine years now – The pandemic is a reminder of all environmental threats affecting us, the urgent need to work together and the difficulty to achieve such cooperation in individual countries and globally. The World Happiness Report 2021 reminds us that we need to work to achieve well-being, not mere wealth, which is bound to be uncertain if we do not improve how we raise to the challenge of sustainable development”.
Finland is the leading country, Italy grows
In the World Happiness Report 2021, Finland is again at the top of the ranking, according to the data collected by Gallup World Poll. This position is primarily the result of the trust of the population in its communities, a factor that, in the midst of the pandemic, contributed to preserve the well-being of people. Italy has raised from 28th to 25th position, in spite of the terrible year we have had. Unlike other countries, researchers of the World Happiness Report found that Italy’s response to the virus was unsatisfactory, mainly as a result of a poor compliance of the population with the measures that have been adopted and the low number of controls, in spite of the fact that the measures that were implemented over the first months of the pandemic were stringent.
“Quite surprisingly, on average, there has not been a decline in the general well-being – said John Helliwell, professor at the British Columbia University – A possible explanation is that people see Covid19 as a common external threat, affecting anyone and resulting into an increased sense of solidarity and empathy”.
“It was very hard this year, but data show significant signs of resilience, such as the will to reach out at social level and the subjective assessment of their lives” explained Lara Aknin, professor at Simon Fraser University.
Covid-19 and mortality
The Report has attempted to answer a fundamental question: why are mortality rates so different at global level? This rate is significantly higher in America and in Europe than in Asia, Australia, and Africa.
Decisive factors include: the population age, the fact of being an island, the proximity with other highly affected areas. Additionally, some cultural differences have further affected the mortality rate: the trust in public institutions; the knowledge acquired with previous pandemics; income inequality; the fact that the government leader was a woman and even the likelihood to find lost properties, like wallets.
“The experience of East Asia showed that stringent policies have not only controlled the pandemic effectively, but they have also mitigated the adverse impact of daily news on people’s happiness” said Shun Wang, professor at the Korean Development Institute.
The issue of mental health is one of the main effects of the pandemic, but it is also the result of the relevant lockdowns. When the pandemic broke out, there was a significant and immediate drop in the level of mental health in a number of countries. Figures are significantly different depending on the measurement criteria, but qualitative data are comparable. For instance, in the UK, in May 2020, the general rate of mental health was 7.7%, lower than expected in a scenario withouth the pandemic. The number of issues resulting from mental health exceeded 47%.
“Living longer is equally important as living a good life. In terms of number of “happy” years of life per person, the world has made huge progress in recent decades, which Covid-19 has not succeeded to wipe out completely”, said Richard Layard, co-director of the Well-Being Programme of the Centre for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics.
The impact on work
Considering the number of lockdowns over the past year and social distancing, the pandemic has obviously had a significant impact on work, limiting contacts among colleagues and causing an increase in the sense of loneliness and isolation, especially among those who were already affected.
“My previous research showed that satisfied workers are 13% more productive – stated Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, director of the Wellbeing Research Centre at Oxford University – This survey shows that happiness does not depend on wages and that social relations and the sense of identity are much more important factors. These conclusions point to a hybrid future workwise, with a better balance between private life and professional life, and in remote working, to preserve social relations more easily and ensure an increased flexibility to workers”.
The Chapters of the World Happiness Report 2021
The Report will be available on 20 March in the Web site: www.worldhappiness.report
A breakdown of the chapters of the World Happiness Report 2021:
Chapter 1: Overview: Life under COVID-19
John F. Helliwell, Richard Layard, Jeffrey D. Sachs, Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, Lara B. Aknin, and Shun Wang
Chapter 2: World Happiness, Trust and Deaths during COVID-19
John F. Helliwell, Haifang Huang, Shun Wang and Max Norton
Chapter 3: COVID-19 Pevalence and Well-being: Lessons from East Asia
by Mingming Ma, Shun Wang, and Fengyu Wu
Chapter 4: Reasons for Asia-Pacific Sucess in suppressing COVID-19
Jeffrey D. Sachs
Chapter 5: Mental health and the COVID-19 pandemic
James Banks, Daisy Fancourt, and Xiaowei Xu
Chapter 6: Social Connections and Well-being during COVID-19
Karynna Okabe-Miyamoto and Sonja Lyubomirsky
Chapter 7: Work and Well-being during COVID-19: Impact, Inequalities, Resilience, and the Future of Work
Maria Cotofan, Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, Marta Golin, Micah Kaats, and George Ward
Chapter 8: Living long and living well: The WELLBY approach
Richard Layard and Ekaterina Oparina
The World Happiness Report is a publication of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, powered by data from the Gallup World Poll. Including the World Risk Poll by Lloyd’s Register Foundation, and the life satisfaction data collected during 2020 as part of the Covid Data Hub. The Report is supported by the Ernesto Illy Foundation; illycaffè; Davines Group; The Blue Chip Foundation The William, Jeff, and Jennifer Gross Family Foundation; the Happier Way Foundation, Indeed.com, and Unilever’s largest ice cream brand Wall’s.
The report is edited by Professor John F. Helliwell of the University of British Columbia; Professor Richard Layard, co-director of the Well-Being Programme at LSE’s Centre for Economic Performance; University Professor Jeffrey Sachs, President of SDSN and the Earth Institute’s Center for Sustainable Development; Professor Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, Director of the Wellbeing Research Centre at the University of Oxford: Professor Lara Aknin of Simon Fraser University, and Professor Shun Wang of the Korea Development Institute.
Ernesto Illy Foundation and illycaffè support the Report
As Benefit company, the legal status adopted in 2019, the company had added to its Articles of Association a number of action areas based on the values it intends to pursue. This also includes the quality of life, which is achieved on the basis of the principles of economic, social, and environmental sustainability and supporting global partnerships to achieve this aim. The happiness of employees and the communities where it does business is a fundamental action area for the company. Other action areas include the commitment to preserve a responsible value chain and sustainable agriculture and the commitment to circular economy for the benefit of the Planet, which requires an improvement in energy efficiency and in the use of resources to progressively reduce emission all along the supply chain.