Health and Fitness

The Philippines Is the Third Happiest Country in the World

In contrast to the World Happiness Report, where we're down to no. 72.
IMAGE Photo by John Christian Fjellestad on Unsplash

As of 2017, the Philippines ranks third on the list of happiest countries, after Fiji and Colombia. That’s according to Gallup International’s 41st Annual Global End of Year Survey, which was conducted from October to December 2017.

That’s one rank down from last year’s global happiness index, in which the Philippines tied with China for second place. It’s worth noting, however, that our net happiness score (+84) has risen 5 points from last year. The net score is calculated by subtracting the percentage of unhappy people from the shares of happy people.

The Philippines is also the 9th most optimistic country. When asked whether they felt 2018 would be a better year than 2017, 44% believed things would get better, while only 4% believed they would become worse, resulting in a net score of +40. It’s worth noting, however, that 48% of Filipino respondents believed 2018 would be just the same as 2017.

When it comes to the list of countries who believe 2018 will be “a year of economic prosperity,” the Philippines lands on the 5th spot with a net score of +32. But again, 46% of the respondents believed that our economic situation would be the same in 2018 as the previous year. 

Our ranking in the Gallup International End of Year Survey runs in stark contrast to the results of the 2017 World Happiness Report, in which the Philippines is all the way down at 72nd place. This can be explained by a difference in methodology. The World Happiness report, which was commissioned by the UN and published by Sustainable Development Solutions Network, seems to focus more on overall quality of life.


As explained in the report, countries are ranked based on their respondents’ responses to the Cantil ladder question: “Please imagine a ladder, with steps numbered from 0 at the bottom to 10 at the top. The top of the ladder represents the best possible life for you. On which step of the ladder would you feel you stand at this time?”

While Filipinos might answer “yes” when asked whether or not they’re happy, if they are financially struggling, they aren’t likely to rank themselves highly. Apart from this, the World Happiness Index actually takes the “average life evaluation scores for each country, based on averages from surveys covering the most recent three-year period, in this report including 2014-2016.” This explains why the World Happiness Report was released as early as March 20, 2017, which is also World Happiness Day.

However, we wouldn’t say that one survey is more accurate than the other—while Gallup International’s results are definitely more up-to-date, both surveys present different aspects of overall happiness and well-being. In the case of the Philippines, it’s reasonable to conclude that while Filipinos face economic hardship, which wouldn’t make for the cheerful circumstances, their resilience makes it possible for them to say they are happy nonetheless.

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Angelica Gutierrez
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