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Norway drops down happiness ranking

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Norway drops down happiness ranking
Happy Norwegian's celebrating Constitution Day in Trondheim. Photo: Ivar Husevåg Døskeland/Flickr
13:51 CEST+02:00
Norway's hopes of stealing Denmark's vaunted position as the world's happiest country have taken a knock, after 'verdens beste land' slipped from second to fourth place in a global ranking of happiness.
In the 2015 World Happiness Report, unveiled in New York on Thursday, Switzerland was the happiest country, closely followed by Iceland and Denmark. 
 
Norway came only fourth, with the rest of the top ten was taken by Canada, Finland, the Netherlands, Sweden, New Zealand and Australia.  
 
The 2015 World Happiness Report is the third annual report seeking to quantify happiness as a means of influencing government policy.  
 
Denmark topped the 2013 version, the last issued, with Norway coming a close second place.
 
Norwegians can comfort themselves that the Danes, long reputed to be the world's happiest people,  saw a decline of 0.39 points in their happiness levels between 2005-2007 and 2012-2014, the years from which the survey data was taken,  putting it in a top twenty of 'greatest happiness losers', that includes crisis-hit countries such as Greece and Yemen. 
 
Norwegian levels of happiness saw a small rise of 0.107 points ove the same period. 
 
The 10 top countries were, once again, all small or medium-sized western industrial countries, of which seven were in Western Europe. 
 
To rate happiness, academics identified such 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 that he hoped that the ranking would start to edge out GDP as the principal measure of progress. 
 
“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," he said. 
 
“We want this to have an impact, to put it straightforwardly, on the deliberations on sustainable development because we think this really matters.” 
   
The United States trailed in 15th place, behind Israel and Mexico, with Britain at 21, pipped by Belgium and the United Arab Emirates. France ranked 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.
 
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