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'Sad Spain' takes tumble in UN happiness poll

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'Sad Spain' takes tumble in UN happiness poll
Photo: Victor Cristian Mitroi
16:17 CEST+02:00
Spain has had the smile wiped from its face in the United Nations World Happiness Report 2013, released on Monday.

The UN report is pleasant reading for global happiness leaders Denmark, Norway, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Sweden.

But Spain and its fellow PIGS nations — Portugal, Ireland, and Greece — have less reason for joy.

Spain is now rated by the UN as the 38th happiest country in the world, while Italy is 45th, Greece comes 70th and Portugal finds itself at the lowly position of 85.

Spain has also been among the hardest hit since from the 2005–07 period to the 2010–12 period, recording the sixth greatest decline in happiness in the UN study.

This fall — far higher than can be explained by relatively minor falls in gross domestic product — could be put down to "respondents’ perceived freedom to make key life choices" and "increases in perceived corruption in business and government", the report's authors concluded.

They also cited the huge influence of unemployment on reduced happiness.

The UN report recommends that governments spend more on mental health to increase the wellbeing of their citizens. 

The Gallup-run study takes into account six factors including real GDP per capita, healthy life expectancy, having someone to count on, perceived freedom to make life choices, freedom from corruption, and generosity.

It comes in the wake of a July 2011 UN General Assembly resolution inviting member countries  to measure the happiness of their people and  to use this to help guide their public policies.

"If we want a happier world, we need a completely new approach to mental health," the 2013 report concludes. 

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