Starting in 2012 and happening every year after, the World Happiness Report determines the happiest countries in the world; and the results for 2017 have been released — on March 20, World Happiness Day, no less. It uses the social foundations of happiness to develop this ranking list, assessing factors such as generosity, a sense of freedom, healthy life expectancy, having someone to count on, GDP (gross domestic product) per capita, and freedom from corruption. Around 3,000 respondents in each of over 150 countries participated, evaluating their lives on a scale of 0 (worst possible life) to 10 (best possible life). The top 10 happiest countries are actually the same as last year — but they've shuffled around a little.
These aren't just numbers on paper — it's all part of a bigger picture. The study of happiness has become a larger field, with the head of the UN Development Program stating in a recent speech, "Paying more attention to happiness should be part of our efforts to achieve both human and sustainable development. Happiness is becoming a growing concern all over the globe, from Miami to the United Arab Emirates.
Norway took home the gold with a score of 7.537, jumping up from fourth place last year. This is one of the reasons the country, wealthy from oil, is happier overall than many other resource-rich economies.
With a ranking of 7.522, Denmark came in second. Danish people are no strangers to happiness: Denmark took the top spot on the UN World Happiness Report in 2013, 2014, and 2016; and it came in third in 2015. Fun fact: They get five weeks of holiday a year at work, and leisure time is very important to them.
Icelanders don't let cold temps and almost straight darkness during the winter get the best of them; and they ended up in third place with 7.504. It's believed by many that the natural beauty of Iceland's pools is largely to thank.
With 7.494, Switzerland came in fourth. Last year, it was second; and in 2015, first. The drop is nothing to be upset about, though. The averages of the top four countries were so close, that even the smallest changes can change their order.
Finland has frequently been recognized for its happiness factor. In 2010, for example, it topped Newsweek's list of the best countries in the world. The Gallup World Poll and the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development named it the second happiest country (below Denmark). It's easy to understand Finland's 7.469 rating.
A 2013 Unicef report ranked Dutch children the happiest in the world, clearly contributing to their 7.377 rating and sixth place spot.
Our neighbors up above received a score of 7.316. A longer average life expectancy, higher average income levels, and strong social ties with family, friends, coworkers, etc. put smiles on Canadians' faces.
New Zealanders enjoy a laid back culture and beautiful scenery — just two reasons behind its 7.314 score.
15 years of research found that financial security, solid relationships, and a sense of purpose in life are the "golden triangle" of Australia's happiness. That 7.284 score makes sense!
Is it the heavy metal? The smiling faces? The weather? These are just a few reasons Swedes give for their happiness — and their 7.284 score.