Switzerland! The third World Happiness Report was published yesterday and Switzerland ranked top of the country list for happiness. You can see the top ten with the US and UK in this graphic (from The Guardian):
Iceland came in second with Denmark down to third place. The UK have moved up one place to 21st and the US sits in 15th out of the 158 countries included. The five least happy countries are Togo, Burundi, Syria, Benin and Rwanda.
Around 2,000 people were asked questions on different areas of their lives, such as social support and freedom to make life choices. They were asked to rank their answers on a scale of 1-10 with the best possible life at 10. The data from these answers, as well as information like healthy life expectancy and GDP per capita, was then used to rank the countries.
Assessing a country’s population by how happy they feel is a relatively new idea still, but one that is being taken more seriously as time goes on.
The report found that in western Europe women are slightly happier with their lives than men until about 50 years old when they swap, and men feel happier. Women also smile and laugh more, particularly in the teenage years! One of the chapters of the report concentrates on children, under-18s now make up one third of the world’s population. The report shows that investing in children’s wellbeing is essential for future world happiness.
Looking at the neuroscience of happiness the report concluded that “Well-being has been found to be elevated when individuals are better able to sustain positive emotion; recover more quickly from negative experiences; engage in empathic and altruistic acts; and express high levels of mindfulness.”
There’s so much information in the World Happiness Report, hopefully world leaders will take it all on board. Do take a look here if you want to read more.
The World Happiness Report is published by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN). It is edited by Professor John F. Helliwell, of the University of British Columbia and the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research; Lord Richard Layard, Director of the Well-Being Programme at LSE’s Centre for Economic Performance; and Professor Jeffrey D. Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, Director of the SDSN, and Special Advisor to UN Secretary General Ban ki-Moon.