Cheer up... UK leaps four spots in hap­pi­ness league

Daily Mail - - News - By Colin Fer­nan­dez Science Cor­re­spon­dent

BRI­TAIN cheered up a bit last year, ac­cord­ing to world hap­pi­ness rank­ings.

The UK came 19th in the league ta­ble of hap­pi­est coun­tries, up from 23rd the pre­vi­ous year. Nor­way topped the ta­ble, over­tak­ing Den­mark to be­come hap­pi­est na­tion on Earth.

Ice­land was third, with Switzer­land fourth and Fin­land fifth. Aus­tralia was ninth while the US slipped a place to 14th.

Ger­many re­mained in 16th while France fell one place to 32nd. The study asked more than 1,000 peo­ple in each of 155 na­tions to rate their hap­pi­ness. Re­searchers also took into ac­count eco­nomic strength, so­cial sup­port, life ex­pectancy, free­dom of choice, gen­eros­ity, and per­ceived cor­rup­tion.

Un­sur­pris­ingly, the bot­tom ten places were filled by war-torn na­tions such as Syria and Ye­men, and coun­tries in sub­Sa­ha­ran Africa such as South Su­dan. Cen­tral African Repub­lic fell to last place.

Jef­frey Sachs, di­rec­tor of United Na­tions re­search group Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment So­lu­tions Net­work, which pro­duced the re­port, said: ‘Happy coun­tries are the ones that have a healthy bal­ance of pros­per­ity and so­cial cap­i­tal, mean­ing a high de­gree of trust in a so­ci­ety, low in­equal­ity and con­fi­dence in gov­ern­ment.’ Re­port au­thor John Hel­li­well, an econ­o­mist at the Univer­sity of Bri­tish Columbia, added that hap­pi­ness was not sim­ply equated with wealth. ‘It’s the hu­man things that mat­ter,’ he said. ‘The ma­te­rial can stand in the way of the hu­man.’

The re­search was con­ducted be­fore last June’s Brexit vote, so it is too early to draw any con­clu­sions that leav­ing the EU has made the UK hap­pier.

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