HAP­PI­EST PEO­PLE ON THE PLANET? NORWEGIANS

The Denver Post - - NEWS - The As­so­ci­ated Press

oslo, nor­way» A new re­port shows Nor­way is the hap­pi­est coun­try on Earth, Amer­i­cans are get­ting sad­der and it takes more than just money to be happy.

What makes Nor­way and other north­ern Euro­pean coun­tries top the hap­pi­ness list has a lot to do with a sense of com­mu­nity and broad so­cial wel­fare sup­port, ac­cord­ing to ex­perts and cheer­ful Norwegians, in­clud­ing one whose job it is to make peo­ple laugh.

“The an­swer to why Norwegians are happy — it’s a bit bor­ing — it’s well func­tion­ing institutions,” ex­plained Nor­we­gian co­me­dian Har­ald Eia. “The schools, health care, po­lice, all the bu­reau­cracy treat peo­ple with re­spect and that trick­les down and makes us happy, makes us trust each other, makes us feel a part of the whole com­mu­nity. So it’s very bor­ing: bu­reau­crats are the se­cret to our hap­pi­ness.”

Nor­way vaulted to the top slot in the World Hap­pi­ness Re­port de­spite lower prices for oil, a key part of its econ­omy. In the U.S., hap­pi­ness has been de­clin­ing for the past decade even as the na­tion has be­come richer.

The United States was 14th in the lat­est rank­ing, down from No. 13 last year, and over the years Amer­i­cans steadily have been rat­ing them­selves less happy.

“It’s the hu­man things that mat­ter. If the riches make it harder to have fre­quent and trust­wor­thy re­la­tion­ships be­tween peo­ple, is it worth it?” asked John Hel­li­well, the lead au­thor of the re­port and an econ­o­mist at the Univer­sity of Bri­tish Columbia in Canada (ranked No. 7).

“The ma­te­rial can stand in the way of the hu­man,” he added.

Nor­way vaulted to the top slot in the World Hap­pi­ness Re­port. The United States was 14th in the lat­est rank­ing, down from No. 13.

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