The International Day of Happiness is celebrated on March, 20. This date was not chosen randomly. It’s the day of spring equinox when the length of day and night is nearly equal. It symbolizes the fact that all people on the planet have equal rights to happiness.
On the eve of that date, the World Happiness Report 2016 Update was released in Rome. The report was prepared by an international group of experts, which included economists, psychologists and health experts.
According to the report findings the world’s happiest people live in Denmark. Last year the Nordic country was the third after Switzerland and Iceland. The lowest level of happiness is in Burundi, a country in East Africa.
The World’s Happiest Countries 2016
The level of happiness was estimated on the basis of the following criteria:
- GDP per capita
- Social security level
- Trust (based on the opinion of people on the level of government and business corruption)
- Freedom to make decisions
- Healthy life expectancy
- Generosity (the number of donations, philanthropy development)
In addition, analysts from the Gallup Research Center interviewed around 3000 people in each of the 157 countries. People were asked to imagine a 10-steps ladder, where the highest step represents the best possible life while the lowest one — the worst possible life. Those polled where expected to decide on which step they were standing at the moment.
The average level of happiness throughout the world equals to 5. As it turns out, our planet is only half happy.
Results: Top Happiest Countries In the World
As seen from the report, the most satisfied nations are among Nordic European countries.
The top five happiest countries are Denmark (1), Switzerland (2), Iceland (3), Norway (4) and Finland (5). All these countries are characterized by a high level of social security, high GDP and advanced standards of medical care. That makes people feel confident about their future which is quite important.
For example, the Danes pay high taxes but it is reinvested in education and social security systems, free medical care. Students in Denmark may receive monthly grants up to 7 years. People have trust in government support. Some Danes admit that the only thing they worry about is the weather.
Canada (6), Netherlands (7), New Zealand (8), Australia (9) and Sweden (10) are in the top 10.
The US is ranked 13 (15th last year) followed by Austria (12) and Israel (11). United Kingdom come 23 overall (fell by 2 points from 2015).
Some countries that have experienced economic downfalls fell significantly in their rankings.
Greece, Italy and Spain went down by several points due to hard Eurozone crisis.
In general, the most prosperous regions of the world include Europe (especially its northern part), North America, Latin America and the Caribbean.
Russia is ranked in 56th place (64th last year) and Ukraine come in 121 (has fallen by 10 points since 2015).
It’s noteworthy that Russia is among the countries with the substantial and continuing increases in life evaluations. The first place in this chart belongs to Nicaragua.
Ukraine is in top 10 countries with the highest drop in the level of happiness.
Countries of Africa (the area below Sahara desert) and the southern Asia made the bottom of the list.
Burundi is on the 157th place. There is a civil war in the country. The population of the country is extremely poor. Syria (156) is the second last country in the report.
The World Hapiness Report Conclusions
Researchers suggested what should be done to improve the situation.
Scientists concluded that the feeling of happiness reflects the level of social inequality in the country.
Countries where wealth distribution is more equal (the gap between the poor and the rich is smaller) show significantly better results. This means, people feel happier.
The conclusions stir us in the direction of more equal distribution of wealth, if we want the level of happiness to increase.
Not surprisingly, the lowest level of social inequality is recorded in Denmark. The richest Danes earn 5.2 times more than the poorest. Worldwide the income of poor people is 10 times less than the rich. Denmark’s sophisticated tax policy assists in more equal distribution of wealth.
The researchers also note that the level of happiness do not necessarily correspond to the country’s living standard.
Level of happiness depends on the combination of economic, social and environmental factors.
The authors of the report hope that it will become the basis for developing a strategy to create a world full of happy people.
Infographics: World Happiness Report 2016 Update