Last summer, Brexit shocked the world. Few global experts saw it coming. In their defense, most economic indicators didn’t point to a political upheaval. Gross domestic product in the U.K. was growing at about 2%, and unemployment had dropped to 4.9%. From a data perspective, things seemed OK.
Another metric, however, showed something different happening in the U.K. — “happiness.” In the two years leading up to Brexit, Gallup found that the percentage of people who were “happy” (or “thriving“) was in dramatic decline. In fact, the 15-percentage-point decline in the percentage of people rating their lives positively enough to be considered thriving was so dramatic that it remains among the largest two-year drops in Gallup’s history of global tracking.
Today, the U.N. launches its next iteration of its “World Happiness Report.” Popularized by previous reports, these happiness rankings have become world famous. Many people can quickly identify Denmark, Norway and Switzerland as among the happiest countries. What people don’t know is how happiness is measured and why it’s so important to track.