Switzerland, Scandinavia top international ‘happiness’ index
Switzerland is the happiest country in the world, closely followed by Iceland, Denmark, Norway and Canada, according to a global ranking of happiness unveiled in New York on Thursday.
The 2015 World Happiness Report is the third annual report seeking to quantify happiness as a means of influencing government policy. The United Nations published the first study in 2012.
Finland, the Netherlands, Sweden, New Zealand and Australia round out the top 10, making small or medium-sized countries in Western Europe seven of the top 10 happiest countries.
Academics identified the variables as real GDP per capita, healthy life expectancy, having someone to count on, perceived freedom to make life choices, freedom from corruption and generosity.
Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and one of the editors, said the top 13 countries were the same a second year running although their order had shifted.
They combined affluence with strong social support, and rela- tively honest and accountable governments, he told a news conference.
“Countries below that top group fall short, e ither in income or in social support or in both,” Sachs explained.
The United States trails in 15th place, behind Israel and Mexico, with Britain at 21, pipped by Belgium and the United Arab Emirates. France ranks number 29, behind Germany in 26th place.
Afghanistan and war- torn Syria joined eight sub-Saharan countries in Africa — Togo, Burundi, Benin, Rwanda, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Guinea and Chad — as the 10 least happy of 158 countries.
Despite the conflict raging in Iraq, that country was ranked 112, ahead of South Africa, India, Kenya and Bulgaria.
The 166- page report was edited by Sachs, John Helliwell of the University of British Columbia in Canada and Richard Layard from the London School of Economics.
“One of our very strong recommendations is that we should be using measurements of happiness ... to help guide the world during this period of the new sustainable development goals,” Sachs said.