Sri Lankans’ happiness index drops to a three month low in May 2021

The second quarter of 2021 has been challenging for most Sri Lankans. The country has seen a significant rise in COVID-19 cases. Consequently, Sri Lankans are undergoing the 2nd lock-down that has exceeded one month. Daily wage earners have lost their livelihoods and businesses continue to struggle under adverse economic conditions.

Breakthrough Business Intelligence has been monitoring the happiness index of Sri Lankan people for the past 03 months. According to the findings, happiness is at a three-month low following the chain of events that has culminated in falling living conditions. Overall scores have dropped from 77 in April to 72 in May.

The Happiness Index

The Happiness Index measures life satisfaction, the generalized feeling of ‘happiness’ along with other ‘domains of happiness’ (see below)[1]. It was inspired by the model for Gross Happiness Index developed by the Kingdom of Bhutan, which to this date works alongside GDP as a measure of the country’s progress.[2]

The Happiness Index correlates strongly with individual happiness and their concern for societal and environmental wellbeing[3]. Nations who rank higher on the index have seen significant development in mindsets and behaviours taken towards communal benefit, ecological sustainability, corporate and public policy[4]

How is happiness indexed?

Analysts at Breakthrough Business Intelligence evaluated happiness in 11 different domains to quantify happiness. Each of the 11 domains contribute towards a score out of one hundred that will determine the final happiness index.

1.       Psychological Wellness - Optimism, sense of purpose and sense of achievement.

2.       Shelter - Access to, and the availability of housing.

3.       Work – Ease of finding work and the perceived ease of getting compensated for work done.

4.       Social Support – Perceived sense of support

5.       Environment – Closeness to nature, perceived level of pollution.

6.       Governance – Trust placed in the government, perceived competence in the government, and levels of corruption.

7.       Material Wellbeing - Financial security and perceived capability to meet basic needs.

8.       Health – Presence/lack of illness and the capacity to perform daily activities.

9.       Time Balance - Sense of enjoyment they have, by being able to spend time doing things they loved. Feeling rushed, sense of having more work than they would do pre-lockdown drove the score down.

10.   Community - The sense of belonging, safety and protection offered by the community.

11.    Education arts and culture - Participants’ perceived ease of access to educational and cultural experiences was measured under this domain of the happiness index.


The average score on most of the happiness domains were low and averaged around 7 out of 10. Sri Lankans scored higher on Social support, Environment and Health domains.


Business Implications

The Happiness Index is known to correlate with people’s outlook on public policy and economy. It is, therefore, a tool to evaluate satisfaction with life, income inequality and trust placed in the government and its agents.   

For MarCom professionals, this means that the happiness index can be a measure of the relative confidence brand messages instill in their consumers. Because of its importance Breakthrough Business Intelligence will continue tracking happiness levels monthly and hopes that this information will help business leaders, policy makers shape their strategy in the short and long runs.







[1] Happiness Index MethodologyMusikanski et al., 2017

[2] Relationship of the gross national happiness index to the statetrait anxiety inventory scales. Chinnes, 2016

[3] As postulated by Cloutier, Jambeck, & Scott (2014); Pfeiffer & Cloutier (2016); Zidanšek, (2007)

[4] Frey & Stutzer, 2017