Kenya’s happiness ranking drops

Tuesday March 26 2024

Scores in the happiness ranking are based on individuals’ assessments of their lives. PHOTO | SHUTTERSTOCK


Kenya’s happiness levels have dropped for the first time in five years, an analysis based on a newly released survey shows.

Scores in the happiness ranking are based on individuals’ assessments of their lives.

The annual World Happiness Report 2024 edition ranks Kenya at position 114 out of 143 surveyed countries, having dropped three places from 111 in last year’s report, marking the reversal of a five-year trend where the country’s score had been on a sustained improvement trajectory.

The last seen drop was in 2018 when Kenya’s index slipped to 124 down from the ranking of 112 it attained in 2017. The findings of the latest report indicate that Kenya is the 29th unhappiest nation in the world. Finland held onto its top ranking for seven years straight.

In terms of age demographics, young people emerged as the happiest group ranking position 109 globally, while those in the upper middle age are the unhappiest ranking at 123.

Read: Time for painful choices, Ruto tells Kenyans


The lower middle aged as well as the elderly exhibited similar levels of happiness both ranking at position 119 worldwide.

The survey defines young people as those aged below 30, lower middle-aged as those between 30 and 44, upper middle-aged as those between 45 and 59 while those above 60 are referred to as elderly.

In the regional block, Kenya ranked ahead of neighbours Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Egypt, and Zambia who took up positions 117, 131, 130, 127, and 134 respectively.

The researchers arrive at the rankings by asking respondents in the surveyed countries to assess and rate life with a score of 10 as the best possible life for them and zero as the worst possible condition.

The study did not provide details on why Kenya’s happiness score dipped in 2023 even though tough economic times amid heightening inflation and the pain of newly introduced taxes have rattled many households or individuals.

In Kenya, the period under review was synonymous with public voicing of citizen frustrations over increased taxation by the government, amidst a thinning payslip for the working class and sky-high prices of household commodities.

In February last year, for instance, deductions to the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) rose five-fold after a landmark ruling that upheld the 2013 NSSF Act.

Shortly thereafter, pension contributions were raised to 12 percent of pensionable wages made up of two equal portions split between the employees and the employer.

The Finance Act of 2023 would later add salt to injury with the imposition of the housing levy, set at 1.5 percent of gross salaries and payable by both the employee and the employer.