Afghanistan ranks last in the World Happiness Report among the 149 countries surveyed, with Lebanon following.
Even before the Taliban came to power last August, Afghanistan is the most unhappy country in the world. This is according to a so-called World Happiness Report released ahead of the International Happiness Day designated by the United Nations on Sunday.
The annual report ranks Afghanistan last among the 149 countries surveyed, with a happiness rate of only 2.5. Lebanon was the second most miserable country in the world, with Botswana, Rwanda and Zimbabwe in the bottom five.
Finland ranked first for the fourth year with a score of 7.8, followed by Denmark and Switzerland, Iceland and the Netherlands in the top five.
The researchers ranked the countries after analyzing three years of data. They looked at a range of categories, including per capita gross domestic product (GDP), social safety net, life expectancy, freedom to make life choices, generosity of the population, and perceptions of the level of internal and external corruption.
Afghanistan is in bad shape in all six categories, as it was before the return of the Taliban to power. According to the report of the US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan, the country was under United States occupation for 20 years, during which Washington alone spent $145bn on development.
Still, there were signs of growing despair.
Gallup conducted a survey in 2018 and found that some of the Afghans they surveyed had high hopes for the future. In fact, the majority said they had no hope for the future.
Afghans have faced war, corruption, poverty and lack of jobs for years.
When Masood Ahmadi, a carpenter, returned to Afghanistan from neighboring Pakistan after the fall of the Taliban in 2001, his hopes for the future were bright.
He dreamed of opening a small furniture workshop, employing maybe 10 people. Instead, sitting in his dusty six-foot by 10-foot workshop on Saturdays, he said he only opens twice a week for lack of work.
“When money came into this country, the government’s leadership took the money and counted it as their personal money, and didn’t help people change their lives for the better,” Ahmadi said.
Since the Taliban came to power last August, the country’s economy has been in free fall, worsened by US sanctions and its diplomatic and financial isolation. The Taliban has urged the international community to recognize its new government as it struggles to revive an economy battered by decades of war and foreign interference.