According to a United Nations agency report toppling neighbor Denmark from the number one position, Norway is the happiest place on Earth. Finland, Denmark, Iceland and Switzerland round out the top five, while the Central African Republic came last. North America and Western Europe dominated the top of the table, with the UK and US at 19th and 14th, respectively. Countries in sub-Saharan Africa and those hit by conflict have predictably low scores. Syria settled 152 of 155 countries – South Sudan and Yemen, which are facing impending famine, came in at 147 and 146.
The World Happiness Report was freed to coincide with the United Nations’ International Day of Happiness on 20 March. It mainly relies on asking a simple and subjective question of more than 1,000 people every year in more than 150 countries. The question asks, “Imagine a ladder, with steps numbered from 0 at the bottom to 10 at the top.” “The top of the ladder symbolizes the best possible life for you and the bottom of the ladder represents the worst possible life for you. On which step of the ladder would you say you impersonally feel you stand at this time?”
The average result is the country’s score ranging from Norway’s 7.54 to the Central African Republic’s 2.69. But the report also tries to examine statistics to explain why one country is happier than another. It looks at factors including economic strength, life expectancy, freedom of choice, social support, perceived generosity and corruption.
‘Crisis In America’
This year’s report also contains a chapter titled “restoring American happiness”, which examines that despite constantly increasing economic improvement, why the happiness levels in the United States are falling. The author said, “The United States should and can raise happiness by addressing America’s multi-faceted social crisis – rising inequality, distrust, corruption and isolation – rather than focusing mainly or exclusively on economic growth.” He further added, “America’s crisis is, in short, a social crisis, not an economic crisis.” President Donald Trump’s policies were likely to make things worse, said Jeffrey Sachs, the director of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, which published the report.
“There aim is to increase inequality – tax cuts at the top, throwing people off the health care rolls, cutting Meals on Wheels in order to raise military spending. I think everything that has been proposed goes in the wrong direction,” he said.
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The report also advises that professional “white collar” jobs are related with better happiness over “blue collar” roles but one of the biggest factors is having a job.