China ranked 79th among 155 countries in happiness levels in 2017, up from 83rd last year, according to a United Nations report released on March 20.
According to the 2017 World Happiness Report, produced by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network of the UN, China came out ahead of countries including Portugal (89) and India (122), with its citizens reporting more and more satisfaction with living standards and quality of life.
Despite China's significant ascension in the rankings, the report contrasts the country's sharply growing per capita income over the past 25 years with life evaluations that fell steadily from 1990 until about 2005, recovering since then to 1990 levels. Experts attributed this drop to rising unemployment and fraying social safety nets; recovery has since occurred in both areas.
The report also noted that lower-income and older segments of the Chinese population have suffered most, and their life satisfaction remains below the 1990 levels. Upper-income and younger populations have, in contrast, enjoyed a fairly constant level or modest improvement of life satisfaction.
The happiness rankings are based on six factors: per capita gross domestic product, healthy life expectancy, freedom, generosity, social support and absence of corruption in government or business.
Western Europe and North America dominated the top spots, with Norway named the happiest country in the world. The Central African Republic came in last place.