People in the happiest countries in the world trust their governments and businesses, see themselves as free to make life decisions, and say they have good social support.
Having a high life expectancy at birth helps.
In a new dispatch called the World Happiness Report, a group of independent experts including economist Jeffrey Sachs, surveyed people in 156 countries to find out how highly they evaluated their lives on a scale from 0-10.
The report took into account several factors, of which 6 were found to be the most important:
- Real GDP per capita
- Healthy life expectancy at birth
- Freedom to make life choices
- Perceptions of corruption
We took a look at the top 21 countries:
21. United Arab Emirates — The most significant factor in the UAE’s positive ranking was its GDP per capita, followed by its social support. Interestingly, the report’s scoring is based on its residents, which sometimes includes large numbers of non-Nationals. In the UAE, non-Nationals make up roughly 80% of its residents.
20. Chile — The country moved up 4 places in the ranking since last year, largely thanks to its residents’ perceptions of good social support.
19. United Kingdom — England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland also moved up a few spots in the ranking from last year, with social support and per capita GDP appearing to play the biggest roles in its score. In Britain, however, there were huge
variations across individuals in terms of life satisfaction, something the country had in common with the US, Australia, and Indonesia.
18. Luxembourg — This country’s GDP per capita played the strongest role of the 21 top countries in determining its place on the ranking. At a whopping $101,936, it’s the second-highest in the world.
Source: Business Insider UK
17. Belgium — This country ranked almost identically with Germany, with GDP and social support playing the strongest roles in its score.
16. Germany — The report found that any rise in overall income in this country had little effect on the overall life satisfaction of its residents. The same was found true for only 2 other countries: Britain and Australia.
15. Ireland — The country moved up 4 spots since last year’s ranking, and its score is based heavily on how residents ranked their social support. This is especially interesting given the economic crisis the country faced post-2007, the report’s authors write. “In respect to the post-2007 economic crisis, the best examples of happiness maintenance in the face of large external shocks were Ireland and … Iceland.”
14. United States — The country fell one place on the rankings, something the report’s editors attribute to social causes like less perceived personal freedom, lower social support, and mental illness. “America’s crisis is, in short, a social crisis, rather than an economic crisis,” they write.
13. Austria — Although its ranking was almost identical to the US, more of Austria’s ranking was accounted for by a higher perceived freedom to make life choices and a lower perception of government corruption.
12. Costa Rica — Out of all the countries in the top 21, Costa Rica had the lowest GDP per capita. Nevertheless, its high levels of social support and low levels of perceived corruption earned it an esteemed spot on the list. The country is also a leader in sustainability and renewable energy, having recently gone 76 days without using fossil fuels.
Source: Business Insider
11. Israel — The country ranked in the same spot as last year, thanks to its high GDP per capita and perceived social support. Out of the 21 happiest countries, it was also perceived to have the lowest government corruption, even though its former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was recently found guilty of corruption.
Source: The Guardian