Who's happy, who's not: Norway tops list, U.S. falls

Norway was named the world's happiest country for the first time, taking the title from Scandinavian neighbour Denmark - which did not appear to begrudge them the victory.

Among the top 20 gainers were Thailand and China, eight countries in the Commonwealth of Independent States and Eastern Europe, seven in Latin America, two in Sub-Saharan Africa and Macedonia in the Balkans.

The 2017 World Happiness Report by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network reveals which countries are the happiest, ranking 155 countries globally. It also takes into account GDP per capita, healthy life expectancy, freedom, generosity, social support and absence of corruption in government or business.

An index of changes from 2005-07 to 2014-16 shows that Nicaragua is the most improved country in happiness, followed by Latvia and Sierra Leone. That boosted the per person annual income, as measured by economic output, to more than $US100,000 ($130,000) - almost double that of the United States.

Norway led the ranks this year as the Happiest Country in the World.

We found some other possible reasons for India's growing unhappiness. This was the 5th year of the "Happiness" rankings.

The report is based on an annual survey of 1,000 people in more than 150 countries that simply asks them to rank, on a scale of 0 to 10, whether they are living their best life.

The report, that measures subjective well-being by asking people in more than 150 countries about how GDP, social support, health expectancy, freedom to make life choices, generosity and perception of corruption, determine their individual life. Rattled by a slow economic recovery and deeply partisan political landscape, the U.S. dropped down one spot from past year to the 14th happiest in the world.

Other Scandinavian countries also scored better than the US, despite slightly worse economies.

Syria and Yemen have booked ranks in the least happy countries in the world, as Yemen has ranked 146 while Syria has ranked 152.

-Work plays a key role, as unemployment causes a big drop in happiness.

"Why can't Americans who are the brightest people in the world do the same thing as we do to make the happiest people?"

The US ranked 14th while the United Kingdom 19th.

While the 10 countries at the top remained the same as in a 2016 update, those in the bottom 10, which had the lowest life evaluations, showed greater variation.

"In [the United States, Australia, Britain, and Indonesia] the most powerful effect would come from the elimination of depression and anxiety disorders, which are the main form of mental illness", authors wrote.

  • Leroy Wright