Norway tops happiness report

For the first time, Norway has been named the world’s happiest country

Photo: marenloviseoby / Foap /
What’s not to be happy about on a summer’s day at World’s End?

The Local

Norway has been named the world’s happiest country for the first time, taking the title from Scandinavian neighbor Denmark.

Ranked fourth in each of the last two years and second in 2013, Norway has leaped to the top of the social happiness list. Scores are calculated by measuring factors such as levels of caring, freedom to make life decisions, generosity, good governance, honesty, health, and income.

The 155 countries in the World Happiness Report, produced since 2012 by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, are also assessed on satisfaction with things like employment, income inequality, life expectancy, GDP per capita, corruption in government and business, and social support.

The report is compiled using Gallup polls, which ask people to evaluate various aspects of their lives on a scale from 0 to 10.

Denmark, the happiest country in the 2016 and 2013 editions of the list, slid to second place, with Iceland and Switzerland completing the top four. All four countries did well in the main factors supporting happiness—caring, freedom, generosity, honesty, health, income, and good governance—the World Happiness Report said on its website.

Norway’s other Scandinavian neighbor, Sweden, stayed at 10th on the list, while the U.S. dropped from 13th to 14th.

One reason for the Nordic countries’ good performance in the happiness report is the sense of community in societies, according to its lead author.

“It’s the human things that matter. If the riches make it harder to have frequent and trustworthy relationship between people, is it worth it?” John Helliwell, the lead author of the report and an economist at the University of British Columbia in Canada, told the Associated Press (AP).

Although Denmark lost a title, there were no sour grapes among happiness researchers in Copenhagen.

“Good for them. I don’t think Denmark has a monopoly on happiness,” Meik Wiking, CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen, who wasn’t part of the new study, told AP.

“What works in the Nordic countries is a sense of community and understanding in the common good,” Wiking said.

The study of happiness has gained focus in recent years—the World Happiness Report contains an entire chapter on relative data for policymakers.

The makers of the report say that it “continues to gain global recognition as governments, organizations, and civil society increasingly use happiness indicators to inform their policy-making decisions.”

This article was originally published on The Local.

It also appeared in the April 7, 2017, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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