Norway tops global happiness report overtaking Denmark

Worldwide desk - Norway is the happiest place on Earth, according to a United Nations agency report - toppling neighbour Denmark from the number one position.

Norway jumped to top spot in the World Happiness Report despite the plummeting price of oil— a key part of its economy — but researchers said it's the "human things" that matter, such as a feeling of community which is strong in the Scandinavian country of 5 million. Income in the United States has gone up over the past decade, but happiness is declining.

According to report Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland and and Finland round out the top five, while the Central African Republic came last. Yet money is not the only ingredient in the recipe for happiness, the report said.

The World Happiness Report was released to coincide with the United Nation's International Day of Happiness today.

The rankings are based on six factors - per capita gross domestic product, healthy life expectancy, freedom, generosity, social support and absence of corruption in government or business.

The report ranks 155 countries.

As for America, the country fell to No. 14 from No. 11 in 2012 with a current average happiness rank of 6.993. In those surveys, people give scores from 1 to 10 on how much social support they feel they have if something goes wrong, their freedom to make their own life choices, their sense of how corrupt their society is and how generous they are. Nicaragua and Latvia increased the most. It was edited by Helliwell of CIFAR (Canadian Institute for Advanced Research) and the University of British Columbia; Richard Layard, Director of the Well-Being Programme at the London School of Economics; and Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute and the Sustainable Development Solutions Network.

"But even if we top this statistic now we continue to prioritize mental health care, to improve follow-up of children and young people because many are still struggling".

America's problems with rising income inequality, distrust with the government, how the country reacted to the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks and the nation's "deteriorating" educational system are some possible factors cited in the report.

Happiness - and doing what you love - is more important than politicians think, said study author Helliwell.

The World Happiness Report 2017 looks at trends in the data recording how highly people evaluate their lives on a scale running from 0 to 10.

"To do this successfully requires high levels of mutual trust, shared objective, generosity and good governance, all factors that help to keep Norway and other top countries where they are in the happiness rankings".

Germany was ranked 16th, the United Kingdom 19th and France 31st while US dropped one spot to 14th.

This list has been corrected to show the number for Denmark is 7.52, not 7.42, as sent previously.

  • Leroy Wright