No way to hap­pi­ness? Try Nor­way

Nelson Mail - - WORLD DIGEST -

NOR­WAY: Nor­we­gian law stu­dent Karen Nerbo summed up the feel­ings of many yes­ter­day as her coun­try was named the world’s hap­pi­est.

‘‘We have a lot of things to be happy about, our so­ci­ety is very open, we have ev­ery­thing that we need, there is not much to com­plain about,’’ said Nerbo, 22, walk­ing down Oslo’s prime shop­ping av­enue.

Nor­way pipped last year’s league leader Den­mark to take the crown in the United Na­tions’ World Hap­pi­ness Re­port 2017, with New Zealand land­ing eighth.

Piano teacher El­iz­a­beth Eines hailed Nor­way’s cra­dle-to-grave wel­fare sys­tem as the rea­son.

‘‘We don’t have to worry about stuff, if some­thing bad will hap­pen, we feel se­cure that we will be taken care of,’’ said Eines, 32.

The coun­try of 5.2 mil­lion in­hab­i­tants largely avoided the 2008 fi­nan­cial cri­sis that hit the rest of the world thanks to high oil prices that boosted its lead­ing in­dus­try, oil pro­duc­tion.

And de­spite a halv­ing of crude prices since mid-2014, Oslo has care­fully man­aged its oil wealth, pool­ing its rev­enues into a sov­er­eign wealth fund that is the world’s largest.

The gov­ern­ment takes a small per­cent­age of the fund’s value for its state bud­get ev­ery year, which has helped shel­ter it from the deep bud­get cuts other coun­tries have had to make.

Of course, not ev­ery­one is happy. A demon­stra­tion for work­ers’ rights took place yes­ter­day. And as Rudy Stan­ford-Smyth, a 37-year-old South African me­chan­i­cal en­gi­neer, says, Nor­way can also be hard to move to.

‘‘It can also be rough as a for­eigner, as an im­mi­grant maybe, but once you have a job and once you’re in the sys­tem I think it’s a good place,’’ said the fa­ther-of-two.

‘‘I have chil­dren so it’s a good place for my chil­dren to be.

‘‘The salaries are pretty good here no mat­ter what job you do,’’ he said.

For ev­ery win­ner, there is a run­ner up and over in Den­mark, they were san­guine about the slip in the rank­ings.

‘‘Den­mark over­taken: Oil lifts Nor­way to the top of hap­pi­ness rank­ing,’’ Dan­ish pub­lic broad­caster DR said.

Maria Mad­sen Busk, a Dan­ish stu­dent, said: ‘‘I think Nor­way is hap­pier than Den­mark be­cause they have more money . . . I don’t think it’s sad be­cause we all know how happy we are,’’ she said.

And there is al­ways room for a bit of ban­ter in the two hap­pi­est na­tions and Scan­di­na­vian near neigh­bours. Stig Bakke, a 52-yearold civil ser­vant mar­ried to a Dan­ish woman, was look­ing for­ward to teas­ing his rel­a­tives.

‘‘That’s some­thing I will use when I go down to visit them this Easter, say­ing to them that they’re num­ber two.’’ — Reuters

PHOTO: REUTERS

A girl stands on her hands near Vang, Nor­way. The coun­try has just been named the hap­pi­est in the world.

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