The United Nations came out with its annual report on the world’s happiest countries. There is a new number one, with Norway upsetting the defending champion Denmark.
The rankings are based on survey participants answering a simple question: “Please imagine a ladder, with steps numbered from 0 at the bottom to 10 at the top. The top of the ladder represents the best possible life for you and the bottom of the ladder represents the worst possible life for you. On which step of the ladder would you say you personally feel you stand at this time?”
The average score around the world is a 5.3, right in the middle of the happiness ladder. Norway is at the top with a 7.5. So what makes these Nordic countries so happy?
The factors the researchers found to influence happiness were GDP per capita, social support, healthy life expectancy, freedom to make life choices, generosity, and freedom from corruption. The Nordic countries excel in these qualities, while American happiness has dropped in recent years due to decreased social support and increased corruption.
Within countries, much of the happiness between people can be explained by physical and mental health and social relationships.