Switzer­land, Scan­di­navia top in­ter­na­tional ‘hap­pi­ness’ in­dex

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL - BY JEN­NIE MATTHEW

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.

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