According to the United Nations world happiness report to mark this year’s International Day of Happiness, Norway is the happiest country on earth.
The landmark survey of the state of global happiness ranks 155 countries based on seven factors that support happiness levels which are freedom, good governance, health, generosity, honesty, caring, and income.
Norwegians ranked highest of the world happiness report after ranking fourth for the last two years. Norway jumped three spots to displace three-time winners Denmark to take the title of “world’s happiest country” for the first time.
Denmark dropped to second place this year, with Iceland, Switzerland, Finland, Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand and Australia and Sweden (which tied for ninth place), completing the top 10 list.
It happens that Norway, which moved up from fourth place last year to dethrone Denmark, has oil wealth. That boosted the per person annual income, as measured by economic output, to more than $100,000 — nearly double that of the United States.
It also helps that it has a low unemployment rate slightly below the U.S. (4.7%) and low-income inequality — the gap between the richest and poor citizens is one-third as large as that in the U.S.
The world happiness report has gained continuous recognition since 2012, according to the UN. Governments, civil societies, and organizations use the happiness indicators to influence their policy-making decisions.
Denmark has won the title three times with Switzerland having just won the title once.
The United States came in 14th place, dropping one place from last year. Germany came in 16th place for the second year, while the United Kingdom moved up four spots to 19th place and Russia moved up seven spots to 49th place. Japan moved up two spots to 51st place, while China moved up four spots to 79th place.
The five lowest ranked were Central African Republic, Burundi, Tanzania, Syria, and Rwanda.
John Helliwell, the report’s co-editor said:
“Countries at the bottom end of the rankings typically have low values of all six of the key variables — income, health, social support, freedom, generosity and absence of corruption.”
“They also include countries afflicted by internal and external conflicts or still trying to recover from past economic, political and civil disruptions.”
Other least happy countries include Togo, Guinea, Liberia, South Sudan, Yemen.