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Visitors happy but Greeks glum

- by Jeremy Guest

Visitors happy but Greeks glum.

Greek island visitors may be happy with their holidays but the locals are not so cheerful. Greece comes a miserable 70th place in a world happiness scale according to a recently published report – well below other European holiday destinations like France (25), Cyprus (34), Spain(38), Italy (45), Malta (48), Croatia (58) and even North Cyprus(69).

But Greece did better than Turkey (77), Portugal (85) and Egypt (130). The UK ranked 22.

A total of 156 countries were surveyed in the World Happiness Report 2013 which has compiled the widest body of 'happiness' data available and used scientific method to evaluate it.

Pollsters collected data from a large number of countries and have tried to come up with tentative explanations of the the differences and changes in national and regional happiness levels over the past five years.

They find that despite the impact of the 2007-08 financial crisis, the world has become a slightly happier and more generous place over the past five years.

Except for Greece, where life satisfaction and happiness with life as a whole has shown losses greater in Greece than in 44 other countries that dropped in the happiness scale.

The top five happiest countries are Denmark, Norway, Switzerland, Netherlands, and Sweden while the bottom five are Rwanda, Burundi, Central African Republic, Benin, and Togo.

The gap between the top and the bottom is large with people living in the highest rated countries over 2.5 times more happy than the lowest.

As well as surveying a cross section of people from each country, the table also takes into account GDP per capita, years of healthy life expectancy, help in times of trouble, perceptions of corruption, amount of generosity and the freedom to make life choices.

The low ranking of Greece in the happiness table is blamed on loss of trust in the police and in the legal system falling in Greece more than 25% more than comparable countries like Spain.

The report said: "Trust in police stayed stable at pre-crisis levels, or even grew slightly, in Spain and Portugal, while falling by 25% in Greece. Trust in the legal system fell significantly in all three countries, but by almost three times as much in Greece as in the other countries ... this erosion of some key elements of institutional trust thus helps to explain the exceptionally large well-being losses in Greece."