The seventh World Happiness Report has just been published to coincide with International Day of Happiness on March 20, 2019. The main purpose of the report remains the same since it first appeared in 2012: to provide a survey of the scientific data being collected that measures the often subjective matter of human well-being and happiness. What are some of the changes in 2019 compared with previous years?
Although a number of facts that have been established in the 2019 edition of the World Happiness Report do little more than reiterate what we already knew about global happiness, there are some surprises to take account of, too.
It seems the Nords are the biggest winners when it comes to happiness levels. Indeed, Finland has been crowned the happiest country in the world – for the second year in a row – leading a Top Ten that is made up of an incredible five Nordic nations.
The Scandinavian countries of Finland, Norway, Denmark, Iceland and Sweden hogged the top positions, with the Netherlands, New Zealand, Canada and Austria also making the Top Ten. Here's the list in full:
8. New Zealand
Tellingly, four of these countries – Denmark, Switzerland, Norway and Finland – have now held Top Ten spots in the five most recent World Happiness Reports. All these top countries tend to have high values for each of the six key variables that are used to measure well-being: income, healthy life expectancy, social support, freedom, trust and generosity.
With views like this, no wonder people in Norway are so happy!
As the Daily Mail reported, according to Meik Wiking, CEO of the Copenhagen-based Happiness Research Institute, the five Nordic countries that reliably rank high “are doing something right in terms of creating good conditions for good lives.”
He added that the happiness levels shows in these results is as a result of healthy amounts of both personal freedom and social security that outweigh residents having to pay “some of the highest taxes in the world. Briefly put, (Nordic countries) are good at converting wealth into well-being,” Wiking said.
“Tellingly, four of these countries – Denmark, Switzerland, Norway and Finland – have now held Top Ten spots in the five most recent World Happiness Reports.”
Despite the current Brexit dilemma causing misery throughout the United Kingdom, the UK managed to climb four places to be ranked 15th in the 2019 report, although it was trailing behind Australia (11), Costa Rica (12), Israel (13) and Luxembourg (14).
While President Donald Trump seems to be happy to blow his own trumpet about his supposed achievements in the USA, his people clearly don't share his joy. That's because the United States – one of the wealthiest countries on the planet – slipped one more place this year in the World Happiness Report.
Indeed, while the country may be getting wealthier, it's certainly not getting happier, perhaps confirming what we know that money does not buy happiness.
It's now ranked in 19th place by the report's authors. Incredibly, the USA has never been in the Top Ten since the UN began publishing the report. In fact, the 2019 placing marks an all time low for the country.
The North African nation of South Sudan was at the bottom of the happiness index. Understandably, countries touch by war and poverty – Afghanistan, Rwanda, Yemen and Syria – were all inside the Top Ten of the least happy places in the world.
One of the key things to take into consideration with the World Happiness Report, which is published annually by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, is that its findings are worked out using established scientific data. Essentially, the index of happiness that the network figures out is based on questioning people in each of the 156 countries in the world.
Respondents to the survey are asked to imagine a ladder of life well-being, ranked from zero to ten, and to place themselves on that ladder. Levels of gross domestic product (GDP) per capita, healthy life expectancy, generosity, social support, freedom to make life choices and corruption are then taken into consideration to provide a score for each country.
The most recent surveys that are undertaken are combined with previous ones, which helps the authors to take into account differences between the relative sample sizes and frequency of surveys in different countries.●
Calvin edits the happiness.com magazine, as well being an artist and lover of swimming, yoga, dancing to house/techno, and all things vintage! Find out more.
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