Malta has climbed four places in an index ranking countries by happiness, just a year after taking a historic tumble in the ranking, according to the World Happiness Report. 

Malta placed 33rd out of 146 countries according to a report by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network, after having ranked 37th in the previous index authored by the same body. Authors generated the scores based on the results of surveys carried out over a span of three years, between 2019 to 2021.

Malta scored 6.447 in the measure for life evaluation, up from 6.157 in 2020. The previous ranking between 2017 and 2019 was 6.773. 

The top of the happiness ranking was dominated by Nordic countries, with Finland clocking the top spot as the happiest country in the world, followed by Denmark and Iceland.

Afghanistan, Lebanon and Zimbabwe were the lowest-ranked countries for global happiness. 

In a breakdown of six factors that make up the life evaluation score, Malta gave 1.838 to GDP per capita, 1.169 to social support, 0.789 to healthy life expectancy, 0.697 to freedom to make life choices, 0.174 explained by generosity, 0.166 to perceptions of corruption and 1.631 was explained by dystopia. 

The dystopia indicator is used as a comparative benchmark to an imaginary country where scores for everything are low and unpleasant. In terms of the variables, no country has performed poorer than dystopia, according to the report. 

“Overall levels of life evaluations have been fairly stable during the two years of COVID-19, matched by modest changes in the global rankings,” the report said. 

“Anger has remained low and stable in the global average, with large increases in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa offset by trend declines elsewhere.”

“Over the five most recent years, positive emotions as a whole remained more than twice as frequent as negative ones and greater for the young than the old.”

This year’s ranking saw France reach its highest ranking to date at 20th place, while Canada slipped to its lowest ranking ever at 15th place. 

Global benevolence is also on the rise, up by almost 25% of its pre-pandemic levels. 

“All must hope that the pandemic of benevolence will live far beyond COVID-19. If sustainable, this outpouring of kindness provides grounds for hope and optimism in a world needing more of both,” the report said.

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