The UN has again pronounced Denmark the happiest place on earth, bumping Switzerland to second place in this year’s edition of the UN’s World Happiness Report.
Released to coincide with World Happiness Day on March 20, the UN released the fourth edition of the index which ranks 156 countries by their “happiness levels.”
Dominating the top 10 list are Nordic and Scandinavian countries, with Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Finland and Sweden taking up half the spots.
To compile the ranking, editors considered the GDP per capita; the healthy years of life expectancy; social support; trust (measured by a perceived absence of corruption in government and business); freedom to make life decisions; generosity (measured by donations); and new this year, happiness inequality.
Because after studying rates of distribution, editors say they found a correlation between countries with more equal distributions of well-being and higher life evaluations.
Happiness is argued to serve as a better indication of human welfare than income, poverty, education, health and good government when measured separately.
The importance of making happiness and well-being a matter of public policy has also been recognized by four national governments: Bhutan, Ecuador, the United Arab Emirates and Venezuela have all appointed ministers of happiness.
The US was the world’s 13th happiest country, the UK was 23rd, China was 83rd and India was 118th.
Nigeria finds herself in 55th place in this year’s rankings
At the bottom of the 156 countries on the list was Burundi, which is experiencing severe political unrest and the threat of violence. It scored worse than Syria, where a civil war has killed more than 250,000 people over the past five years.
The researchers who compile the list define six key categories in the makeup of the rankings: gross domestic product (a nation’s output of goods and services) per capita, social support, healthy-life expectancy, personal freedom, charitable giving and perceived corruption.
Denmark has repeatedly taken the top spot in happiness and life satisfaction rankings be it the UN or the OECD, thanks in part to generous parental leave policies, gender equality, work-life balance, and safety.
The researchers found that people are happier living in societies where there is less inequality of happiness. Likewise it found that the bigger the gap – or inequality – in a country’s happiness, the more widespread unhappiness is as a whole
Here are the world’s top 10 happiest countries:
8. New Zealand
Landing at the bottom of the World Happiness Report index are Burundi, Syria and Togo.