This is the eighth World Happiness Report. We use this Foreword, the first we have had, to offer our thanks to all those who have made the Report possible over the past eight years, and to announce our expanding team of editors and partners as we prepare for our 9th and 10th reports in 2021 and 2022. The first seven reports were produced by the founding trio of co-editors assembled in Thimphu in July 2011 pursuant to the Bhutanese Resolution passed by the General Assembly in June 2011, that invited national governments to “give more importance to happiness and well-being in determining how to achieve and measure social and economic development.” The Thimphu meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Jigme Y. Thinley and Jeffrey D. Sachs, was called to plan for a United Nations High-Level Meeting on ‘Well-Being and Happiness: Defining a New Economic Paradigm’ held at the UN on April 2, 2012. The first World Happiness Report was prepared in support of that meeting, bringing together the available global data on national happiness and reviewing evidence from the emerging science of happiness.
The preparation of the first World Happiness Report was based in the Earth Institute at Columbia University, with the research support of the Centre for Economic Performance at the LSE and the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, through their grants supporting research at the Vancouver School of Economics at UBC. The central base for the reports has since 2013 been the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and The Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University directed by Jeffrey D. Sachs. Although the editors and authors are volunteers, there are administrative and research support costs, covered most recently through a series of research grants from the Ernesto Illy Foundation and illycaffè.
Although the World Happiness Reports have been based on a wide variety of data, the most important source has always been the Gallup World Poll, which is unique in the range and comparability of its global series of annual surveys. The life evaluations from the Gallup World Poll provide the basis for the annual happiness rankings that have always spurred widespread interest. Readers may be drawn in by wanting to know how their nation is faring, but soon become curious about the secrets of life in the happiest countries. The Gallup team has always been extraordinarily helpful and efficient in getting each year’s data available in time for our annual launches on International Day of Happiness, March 20th. Right from the outset, we received very favourable terms from Gallup, and the very best of treatment. Gallup researchers have also contributed to the content of several World Happiness Reports. The value of this partnership was recognized by two Betterment of the Human Conditions Awards from the International Society for Quality of Life Studies. The first was in 2014 for the World Happiness Report, and the second, in 2017, went to the Gallup Organization for the Gallup World Poll.
From 2020, Gallup will be a full data partner, in recognition of the importance of the Gallup World Poll to the contents and reach of the World Happiness Report. We are proud to embody in this more formal way a history of co-operation stretching back beyond the first World Happiness Report to the start of the Gallup World Poll itself.