For the 10th year running, Norwegians have been ranked among the most content people on Earth by the World Happiness Report, a publication of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network that draws on global survey data from people in about 150 countries.
In the recently released 2022 edition, Norway is ranked eight globally, one below neighbours Sweden and five places behind Denmark.
Why is Norway rated so highly?
Happiness is subjective and inherent to each individual, meaning it can’t be measured scientifically.
“Our measurement of subjective well-being continues to rely on three main indicators: life evaluations, positive emotions, and negative emotions”, the report said. “Happiness rankings are based on life evaluations as the more stable measure of the quality of people’s lives,” the report stated.
Researchers used seven categories to assess each country’s contentment level: Dystopia (evaluating how much better life is in a given country in comparison to ones with bad living conditions); perception of corruption in a country; generosity; freedom to make life choices; healthy life expectancy; social support; and GDP per capita.
Overall, Norway was rated 7.365 out of 10 for happiness. The global average was 5.53 in 2021.
Norway ranks exceptionally well- (better than its Nordic neighbours Finland, Iceland, Denmark and Sweden) in terms of its GDP. The country also fares well in the “social support” category and the “life expectancy” one. Another area where the country excels is in the “freedom to make life choices” category.
The country does less well in the “generosity” (as do most countries) and “perception of corruption” categories.
Are Norwegians becoming less happy?
In 2017, Norway was named the happiest country in the world. But since then, the country has fallen down the rankings somewhat. To make matters even more interesting is that some of Norway’s neighbours have maintained or improved their rankings.
Finland has been named the world’s happiest country five times since 2017, while Norway has dopped seven places.
In an analysis of the World Happiness for 2022, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH) noted that quality of life among young people was of particular concern.
“Of particular concern are figures for adolescents and young adults. As in other countries, the quality of life in Norway is also unevenly distributed, and there are a number of vulnerable groups,” the report stated.
The analysis also found that Norway was falling behind its neighbours when it came to quality of life.
“There are thus some signs that the subjective quality of life in Norway has fallen somewhat in recent years, at least compared with countries with which we usually compare ourselves,” the report noted.
Although one thing worth pointing out is that Norwegian’s happiness overall has remained relatively stable over the past decade. Since 2012 the country’s satisfaction with life has been between 7.4 and 7.6 out of 10.