Video Series: Deep Dive Into the 2021 World Happiness Report

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On March 20, the International Day of Happiness, the editors of this year’s report, hosted an online webinar to celebrate the launch of the 2021 World Happiness Report. The launch featured report highlights and “deep dive” discussions into each chapter of the report, emphasizing the importance of understanding and prioritizing well-being for the betterment of the world. We invite you to watch the virtual launch with our partners and the deep dive sessions below.

Launch of the 2021 World Happiness Report

The webinar focused on the effects of COVID-19 on the structure and quality of people’s lives, and describe and evaluate how governments all over the world have dealt with the pandemic. As Prof. Jeffrey Sachs said in his opening statement, “It’s not sure that the world is happier now, but the world is more focused on happiness and well-being—without question—than it was ten years ago, and that by itself offers us a hope that we can turn this better understanding into real happiness in the world.”

Deep Dive Sessions

The co-editors of this year’s report delved into the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health and social connection and found that there are encouraging signs of resilience amongst the troubling rise in symptoms of mental ill-health across the world. Of course, the effects of and response to the pandemic have differed widely among countries. The report looks closely at the successful disease control measures taken by governments in the Asia-Pacific compared to the North Atlantic countries. To strengthen country comparisons, the editors also introduce the WELLBY approach. This single metric combines length and quality of life, which can further prioritize happiness and well-being in policy-making.

Chapter 2: World Happiness, trust, and deaths under COVID-19

COVID-19 has shaken, taken, and reshaped lives everywhere. John Helliwell explains there has been surprising resilience in how people rate their lives overall.

In the following two sessions we try to explain why Asia-Pacific and East Asian countries have done so much better than others.

Chapter 3: COVID-19 Prevalence and Well-being: Lessons from East Asia

Fengyu Wu presents Chapter 3 and describes country by country, the workings of test and trace and isolate, and travel bans to ensure that the virus never got out of control. She also analyses citizens’ responses, stressing that policy can be effective when citizens are compliant (as in East Asia) and more freedom-oriented (as in Australia and New Zealand). In East Asia, as elsewhere, the evidence shows that people’s morale improves when the government acts.

Chapter 4: Reasons for Asia-Pacific Success in suppressing COVID-19

Jeff Sachs reasons for the Asia-Pacific success in suppressing COVID-19. He also discusses how a lack of sufficient scientific knowledge among the populations of the North Atlantic countries has also contributed to the failure of effective pandemic control due to the public’s lack of understanding of the epidemiology of the pandemic and susceptibility to false information and fake news.

Chapter 7: Work and Well-being during COVID-19: Impact, Inequalities, Resilience, and the Future of Work

WHR Editor Jan-Emmanuel De Neve and Janeane Tolomeo of Indeed discuss the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic on economic activity, employment, and our way of working have been far-reaching. They outline the various ways in which the pandemic has affected the global labour market and the world of work and investigate the downstream impacts on workers’ well-being around the world.

Chapter 8: Living long and living well: The WELLBY approach

Richard Layard explains the WELLBY approach. It provides us a more comprehensive way of assessing human progress and evaluating policy options from the performance of different countries.