Norwegians have more reason than ever to celebrate the International Day of Happiness.
After ranking fourth for the last two years, Norway jumped three spots and displaced three-time winner Denmark to take the title of “world’s happiest country” for the first time. Denmark dropped to second place this year, followed by Iceland, Switzerland, Finland, Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand and Australia and Sweden (which tied for ninth place), according to the latest World Happiness Report, released Monday by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network for the United Nations.
Denmark has won the title three of the four times the report has been issued, while Switzerland has won the title just once. The United States came in 14th place, dropping one place from last year. Other superpowers didn’t fare better than Northern Europe either.
The secret to Iceland’s happiness? It’s in the water. Germany came in 16th place for the second year, while the United Kingdom moved up four spots to 19th place and Russia moved up seven spots to 49th place. Japan moved up two spots to 51st place, while China moved up four spots to 79th place.
People in the Central African Republic are unhappiest with their lives, according to the survey of 155 countries, followed by Burundi (154), Tanzania (153), Syria (152) and Rwanda (151).
Happiness is many things
Happiness isn’t just about money, although it’s part of it. Real gross domestic product per capita is one of the key measurements, said the report.
Others include generosity, a healthy life expectancy, having someone to count on, perceived freedom to make life choices and freedom from corruption, the report’s authors argued.
They said it’s a better measure of human welfare than analyzing education, good government, health, income and poverty separately.
“The World Happiness Report continues to draw global attention around the need to create sound policy for what matters most to people — their well-being,” said Jeffrey Sachs, the report’s co-editor and director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, in a statement.
“As demonstrated by many countries, this report gives evidence that happiness is a result of creating strong social foundations. It’s time to build social trust and healthy lives, not guns or walls. Let’s hold our leaders to this fact.”