President Cyril Ramaphosa and his wife Tshepo Motsepe leaving after inauguration ceremony at Loftus Versfeld Stadium. Photo: Itumeleng English/African News Agency (ANA)
President Cyril Ramaphosa and his wife Tshepo Motsepe leaving after inauguration ceremony at Loftus Versfeld Stadium. Photo: Itumeleng English/African News Agency (ANA)

Ramaphoria spurs SA’s happiness index

By Sizwe Dlamini Time of article published May 28, 2019

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CAPE TOWN – South Africa warmly received the inauguration of President Cyril Ramaphosa on Saturday with the general happiness levels registering higher than other comparative days.

The gross national happiness (GNH) index of South Africa indicated that the past Saturday, was different from the others, in that instead of the mood declining from 2pm, it increased to highs of 7 points and more, and the happiness score remained higher than on any other Saturdays until 8:30pm, reflecting the positive mood of the country.

On Saturday, May 25 Ramaphosa was inaugurated, and Professor Talita Greyling and Dr Stephanié Rossouw, who developed the GNH index followed the day’s happiness score hourly, to evaluate the mood of South Africans. 

The discovered that Saturday morning happiness followed the same pattern as all preceding Saturdays, with the high being reached a little later than during the week, at about 9am. The rest of the day’s happiness scores fluctuated between 6.5 and 6.8, however, on a normal Saturday, the happiness score starts to decline from 2pm onwards. 

This was not the case on Inauguration Saturday. 

Professor Talita Greyling and Dr Stephanié Rossouw developed the “Gross National Happiness Index (GNH)” of South Africa” based on sentiment analysis of the daily Tweets of South Africans, from which they derive a happiness score. 

The scale of the happiness scores is between 1 and 10, with 5 being neutral, thus neither happy nor unhappy. They have been following the political events in South Africa, since a week before the elections, and found that the happiness index was very closely related to political events. 

They repeated the exercise in Australia, during their elections, which were held on May 18, and found the same relationship that existed for South Africa, the happiness of a nation and political events are closely correlated.

Greyling and Rossouw said in a statement: “Analysing the Tweets clearly show that the country liked what they saw and heard during the inauguration, a President that accepted the challenge put to him and promised that change will come. A change desperately needed in all facets of society; economically, politically and socially. The country has faith in President Ramaphosa and will follow his policy decisions closely and come next election will hold him to his promises.

“This higher happiness score carried over to Sunday, with Sunday’s levels of happiness higher than the preceding Sundays – with the exception of Mother’s Day, which showed high levels of happiness. Interestingly the rand also strengthened against the dollar from R14.49 a dollar on Thursday May 23 to R14.40 a dollar on Saturday 25 May.

“As the country anxiously awaits the announcement of the cabinet, the high level of political energy was reflected in the higher scores of happiness throughout Sunday, 26 May 2019. This will be the first opportunity for the President to show his determination and steel and deliver on his promises. Will he decrease the size of the outrageously large cabinet, to limit unnecessary expenditure? We will have to wait and see.”

According to Greyling, when people are happy and satisfied with their life, it could signal that they have a higher level of wellbeing. “Wellbeing measures capture valuable information, which is not provided, in other indicators, such as real gross domestic product (GDP) per person.

“Traditionally, economists measured the wellbeing of people or a nation by using objective economic indicators such as GDP. These indicators do not measure wellbeing, but merely specific conditions, which is believed to lead to a good life.”

GNH refers to the level of happiness for a group of citizens or nations and the best-known measures to date are the Gallup world happiness index, world value survey and the happy planet index.


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