Does Technology Make Us Happy?

Can we imagine life today without mobile phones, laptops, and the Internet? Does the ubiquitous technology make us happier? Yes, it does, or so it seems, going by the World Happiness Report 2016. Of the 157 countries ranked, the top 15 are countries of the developed world, including the USA, Canada, and Australia which have state-of-the-art technology. Scandinavian countries lead the list with Denmark being the happiest country on earth, followed by Switzerland (2), Iceland (3), and Norway (4). The happiest people seem to reside in North Europe, with the top five positions being taken by the countries from that region. The United States finds itself at number 13.

Technology all the way

Apart from the visible interventions of technology such as mobile phones and computers, these nations have harnessed technology to serve people. Not only people, enterprises and organizations too have used technology in a big way. From pay roll to inventory to invoice generation—everything is automated. Agriculture is highly mechanized, with manufacturing and services automated to a large extent, leaving little room for manipulation and corruption. Life is predictable, secure, and safe.

Denmark, for instance, is a frontrunner in several areas of technology, research, and innovation with global impact such as green technology, pharmaceutical sciences, telecommunications, IT and design. The motors powering NASA’s Mars Exploration Rovers were built in Switzerland, another leader in space technology and astronomy.

Asia and Africa bring up the rear

On the other hand, countries from Africa and Asia bring up the rear, with Burundi being the unhappiest nation on the planet. Without exception, the bottom 15 countries are all those that are underdeveloped with little technological advancement or resources, including the likes of Tanzania (149), Rwanda (152), Benin (153), and Togo (155). Strife-torn Syria (156) and Afghanistan (154) are also at the bottom of the ladder.

The report has been published by a global initiative of the United Nations—the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN). There is a global demand that the results be used to index the progress of nations and make happiness a criterion for government policy. The report was released ahead of the UN World Happiness Day on 20 March.

Countries are ranked on a scale of 0 to 10. Several factors determine the score: GDP, social support, healthy life expectancy, freedom to make life choices, generosity, and perceptions of corruption. The report argues that happiness provides a better indication of human welfare as compared to income, poverty, education, health and good government, when they are measured separately.

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Muqbil Ahmar is the Editor of Run Your Business Site and Technology Evangelist. He is also an environmentalist (greenubuntu), women rights advocate, critic, columnist, social media expert, blogger and a storyteller. With more than 10 years of experience in journalism, he looks at technology from the prism of society. Armed with an M.Phil in Science Policy Studies from JNU, he wants to bring about better understanding between technology and society to make the world a better place to live in.