Health and Medicine

The World's Happiest Countries Have Been Revealed

March 17, 2016 | by Tom Hale

Photo credit: Doctor Popular/Flickr. (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Who cares about high taxes and cold winters when you’ve got Legos, green energy and pastries? The fourth World Happiness Report is out, and Denmark has topped the tables once again.

Denmark’s chirpiness comes as no surprise. Western Europe has previously dominated the top of their past happiness reports. In addition, Denmark was ranked first in 2013's World Happiness Report and third in 2015.

In order, the countries following Denmark were Switzerland, Iceland, Norway, Finland, Canada, Netherlands, New Zealand, Australia, and then Sweden. The top 10 contains the exact same countries as the report in 2015, albeit in a different order.

The least happy countries in the study were Burundi, Syria, Togo, Afghanistan, Benin, Rwanda, Guinea, and Liberia.

In total, the study looked at 157 different countries. Each country’s happiness was measured using six variables: GDP per capita, social support, healthy life expectancy, social freedom, generosity, and perception of corruption. The scores of these six factors were then compared to “Dystopia” – a hypothetical country that contained all of the worst scores. This acted as a benchmark for the worst possible country.

“Measuring self-reported happiness and achieving well-being should be on every nation’s agenda as they begin to pursue the Sustainable Development Goals,” said Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, who contributed to the report.

“Indeed, the Goals themselves embody the very idea that human well-being should be nurtured through a holistic approach that combines economic, social and environmental objectives.

“Rather than taking a narrow approach focused solely on economic growth, we should promote societies that are prosperous, just, and environmentally sustainable.”

Environmental sustainability certainly seems to be a big one for Denmark. Not only were they listed alongside the U.K. as the top country for combating climate change, this year they’ve also broken their own world record for wind power generation and opened the world’s first “ugly” and expired food supermarket.

The report was released in anticipation of the UN’s World Happiness Day on March 20. You can read the entire study online right here.

Main image credit: Doctor Popular/Flickr. (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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