If you had to guess the happiest country in the world, which would you choose? Jamaica? Italy? Or maybe Australia?
The happiest country in the world – according to the official 2015 World Happiness Report – is actually somewhere better known for its snow.
Yes, Switzerland has topped this year’s ranking of 158 countries by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, an organisation comprising leaders from the world of academia, governments and the private sector, which focuses on sustainable development.
Sunny Australia did made the top 10 in the end. Here are the top ranked leaders:
7) The Netherlands
9) New Zealand
Switzerland, Iceland, Denmark and Norway all scored between 7.5 and 7.6 out of 10 for well-being, while the United States placed 15th, with a score of 7.1.
Ireland is in there at no. 18 but the UK didn’t make the top 20.
The U.N. happiness report, which has come out once a year since 2012, reflects that happiness and well-being are vital indicators of a country’s economic and social development, says the SDSN.
Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, said, “This report gives evidence on how to achieve societal well-being. It’s not by money alone, but also by fairness, honesty, trust and good health. The evidence here will be useful to all countries as they pursue the new sustainable development goals.”
So how were the rankings calculated?
They come from 2012-2015 Gallup polling data, which includes 2,000 to 3,000 people in each country. Participants are asked to rate how happy or not they are with their lives with 0 being the worst possible and 10 being the best.
What makes up a happy life also seems to make a happy country – for example the happiness ratings took into account gross domestic product (GDP), life expectancy and wellbeing, generosity, the amount of social support available, freedom and corruption.
These six factors served as the basis for the report. What emerged was that people’s emotions and life evaluations are strongly influenced by social norms and institutions, which explains why well organised countries where citizens feel protected and taken care of – Switzerland, Iceland, Sweden, and so on – made the top ten.
Individuals also gave higher happiness scores if they had supportive family and friends. At a bigger community or neighbourhood level, happiness scores were, as you’d expect, much higher in a community where empathy, trust and a feeling of safety dominated.