Norway is officially the happiest place on Earth, according to the latest World Happiness Report released on Monday.
Norway which ranked fourth for the past two years made a giant leap forward and displaced the three-time winner Denmark to grab the title of world’s happiest country for first time. On the other hand, United States has slipped further from 13th place in 2016 to 14th place this year.
Ranking happiest places may not appear a serious effort but it is a good measure of a society’s progress. The report ranks 155 countries on the basis of several key factors, including freedom, generosity, good governance, honesty, health and income. Thus, it paints a picture of the developemnt of each country and its people.
“Happy countries are the ones that have a healthy balance of prosperity, as conventionally measured, and social capital, meaning a high degree of trust in a society, low inequality and confidence in government.” Jeffrey Sachs, the director of Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) which published the World Happiness Report said.
Based on the criteria, Norway is declared the happiest country in the world, followed by Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland and Finland. Germany retained its 16th place for the second year in row, while United Kingdom moved up four spots to 19th place and Russia moved up seven spots to 49th place.
The title of the lowest ranked happy place goes to Central African Republic. Burundi, Tanzania, Syria and Rwanda round out the 5 least happiest countries.
“Countries at the bottom end of the rankings typically have low values of all six of the key variables — income, health, social support, freedom, generosity and absence of corruption. They also include countries afflicted by internal and external conflicts or still trying to recover from past economic, political and civil disruptions.” John Helliwell, one of the authors of the report said.
The report not just ranks countries in terms of happiness but also attempts to explain why one country is happier than other. For instance, report suggests that happiness is falling in America, primarily because of inequality, distrust and corruption.
Other notable findings in this year’s report are:
The quality of work is a major factor in people’s happiness.
In wealthier countries, mental health matters most in order to determine happiness.
Despite China’s momentous rise in GDP, the individual well-being of Chinese has fallen. That is why, the country is lingering somewhere low on the list.
The First World Happiness Report was released on April 2012 and it is a global initiative launched by United Nations. Denmark earned first place three of the four times, while Switzerland won the only remaining title.
8. New Zealand
Least Happy Countries
1. Central African Republic
9. South Sudan