What makes the people of a certain country happier than others? Is it the weather? The quality of life? The World Happiness Report has dedicated itself to answering these questions. To find the world's happiest countries, the organization measures income, health, freedom, generosity, and the absence of corruption. After putting all the numbers together, one Nordic country took the crown, yet again. Finland has been named the happiest country in the world for the sixth year in a row.
“The findings are clear. The ethos of a country matters—are people trustworthy, generous, and mutually supportive? The institutions also matter—are people free to make important life decisions? And the material conditions of life matter—both income and health,” the team behind the World Happiness Report writes. “The development of virtuous behaviors needs a supportive social and institutional environment if it is to result in widespread happiness.”
So what countries are the happiest in the world? After Finland, Denmark comes in second and Iceland comes third, rounding the podium. Israel, breaking away from Nordic countries, is in fourth, followed by the Netherlands in fifth place. The highest-ranked non-European country is New Zealand, which takes the 10th place. Canada is ranked 13th, while the United States is in 15th place, climbing a spot from last year.
For their annual rankings, The World Happiness Report relies mostly on data from the main life evaluation question in the Gallup World Poll. “The natural way to measure a nation’s happiness is to ask a nationally-representative sample of people how satisfied they are with their lives these days,” states the executive summary of the report. Participants are asked to rate their current lives on a scale of 0 to 10, with 10 being the best and 0 being the worst. Finland's score was 7.804, leading with a good advantage over Denmark's 7.586. Niger came last with a 4.501 grade.
The World Happiness Report has been working on making it an operational objective for governments by drawing from self-reported perceptions of satisfaction. The report states, “More and more people have come to believe that our success as countries should be judged by the happiness of our people.”