Malaysia ranks 81 in the World Happiness Report 2021


As the pandemic continues to wreak havoc on the lives and livelihoods of tens of thousands of people, a group of independent experts have released the ninth World Happiness Report (WHR) for 2021 earlier this year with a not-so-happy result for Malaysians.

The report highlights how the Covid-19 pandemic affected people’s happiness and quality of living throughout 2020 by conducting survey polls and extensive data analysis. This year, Malaysia is placed 81st, with a happiness score of 5.384, ranking far behind several neighbouring countries in Southeast Asia.


The World Happiness Report 2021


World Happiness Report 2021 top 10 countries
Image credit: The Happiness Research Institute

The entire 2021 WHR focuses on “the effects of Covid-19 and how people all over the world have fared”. These aims were analysed through several important aspects such as mental health, physical well-being, economic insecurity, and confidence in public institutions. The report also looked into the death rates of Covid-19 and how countries have responded to the public health crisis overall.

Finland continues to retain its top spot in the WHR from last year. The high levels of trust in the country have been effective in managing the pandemic contributing to its overall happiness score of 7.842. Similarly, Denmark, Switzerland, Iceland, Netherlands and Norway have all performed consistently well from last year’s ranking.

World Happiness Report 2021 Global overview
Image credit: Visual Capitalist

Malaysia’s ranking in the 2021 WHR improved one spot from last year’s 82nd place with a similar happiness score. The third wave of Covid-19 in Malaysia has resulted in a sudden surge of cases causing a near-total collapse of the public health system and the Sheraton Move, which led to a political crisis during the pandemic, are two underlying factors that affected Malaysia’s ranking in the WHR.


Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam & the Philippines rank higher


World Happiness Report 2021 Asia and Oceania
Image credit: Visual Capitalist

Several neighbouring countries in Southeast Asia have ranked notably higher than Malaysia in the 2021 WHR. Singapore continues to be the happiest country in the region despite ranking one spot lower than last year with a happiness score of 6.377. Thailand which ranked second in the region maintains its 54th place with a slight dip in the final score.

Meanwhile, the Philippines ranks 3rd in the region with a happiness score of 5.880 at number 61. The country sees a noticeable drop from last year’s 52nd rank to 61 likely due to its handling of the Covid-19 crisis. Vietnam has also seen slight improvements in the ranking overtaking Malaysia by two spots and ranks 79.

Other Southeast Asian countries such as Indonesia, Laos, Cambodia, and Myanmar rank lower than Malaysia at numbers 82, 100, 114, and 126 respectively. It’s also worth noting that Brunei was not included in the report due to insufficient data so as were several other countries. The complete WHR 2021 can be read here.


Malaysia’s rank in the World Happiness Report


It’s indeed sad to learn that Malaysia has not seen a significant improvement in the WHR ranking after we fell from number 35 to 80 in the ranks in 2019. With the ongoing public health and political crisis, it’s likely that our ranking will remain the same for the following year. But let’s continue to keep our hopes high and work together to resolving the pressing issues in our country for better days ahead.

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Cover image adapted from: C. and @DGHisham

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