What Makes Nordic Countries So Happy?

The second United Nations' World Happiness Report shows that the world is becoming a happier place with 60 of the 130 countries analyzed improving. What is going on in the 30% of countries, including the United States, where happiness is declining?
Kristian Thøgersen / flickr

The World Happiness Report is a key element of the effort to get the world's leaders to use well-being to measure national progress and guide policy, rather than just looking to economic outcomes such as Gross National Product (GNP).

"This year's report finds that Denmark, Norway, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Sweden are the happiest countries, while the United States ranks 17th out of 156 countries," reports Ben Schiller. "A string of African countries are at the bottom of the list, including Togo, Benin, and Burundi--along with some other countries, like Bulgaria (144th place) and Georgia (134th)."

The report ties six key variables to changes in national levels of happiness: "real GDP per capita, healthy life expectancy, having someone to count on, perceived freedom to make life choices, freedom from corruption, and generosity."

"The Report also shows the major beneficial side-effects of happiness," says the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN). "Happy people live longer, are more productive, earn more, and are also better citizens. Well-being should be developed both for its own sake and for its side-effects."

Full Story: The 10 Happiest Countries In The World, And Why We're Not One Of Them


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