The UN’s ‘World Happiness Report‘ just dropped and it has some opinions about who’s happy around the world and who’s, decidedly, not. The report fleshes out data drawn from Gallop International surveys about happiness. Gallop uses a metric called the Cantril scale where survey-takers are asked to scale their happiness from zero to ten — ten being the happiest. The report then squares this against each country’s GDP (per capita), social support, life expectancy, freedom to make life choices, freedom from corruption, and the society’s generosity.
Not surprisingly, social democracies reigned supreme for overall happiness. Those are the countries with low to nill violent crime, great education and health care, solid social services and safety, and overall openness. The report also notes that citizens of these happy countries are totally cool with paying higher taxes to have all those benefits from their society. It probably helps the happiness to know and see where your tax dollars are going as well.
The report also indexed migrant life and happiness around the world. What they found was fascinating. Turns out people in happy countries are also cool with migrants coming there to find a better life. “Happiness can change, and does change, according to the quality of the society in which people live,” the report states. “The countries with the happiest immigrants are not the richest countries, but instead the countries with a more balanced set of social and institutional supports for better lives.” It seems that seeing other people find success makes everyone a bit happier.
Overall, the top ten countries of this year’s ‘World Happiness Report‘ were the ones you hear about year after year. It leans heavily towards Scandinavia and Alpine Europe with three former British colonies rounding out the list. And, given the extreme weather that the Scandinavian and Alpine countries endure every single winter, they must be doing something right for people to still be so happy in the face of all that cold, right?
Let’s take a look at what the top ten has to offer.