The World Happiness Report 2016 ranks 156 countries according to factors such as equality, GDP per capita, social support, life expectancy, “perceptions of corruption” and “freedom to make life choices”.
The study, the work of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), a global initiative for the United Nations, also examined how people evaluated their own lives on a scale of 0 to 10 including "having someone to count on in times of trouble" and freedom from corruption in government and business.
Despite being famous for its cold winters, Denmark beat last year’s winner, Switzerland, with a total “happiness score” of 7.526.
It has fared well in every recent report, taking top spot in 2013, 2014 and third place in 2015.
Denmark’s success can, according to the report, be attributed to its good life expectancy (80 years, well above the global average of 71), GDP per capita ($44,916, according to World Bank figures, placing it 17th overall), free/tax-financed health care, and an enviable welfare system, which has made its wealth gap one of the world’s smallest.
Well-being critical for Progress
The report published by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network further strengthens the case that well-being should be a critical component of how the world measures its economic and social development.
Leading experts in several fields – economics, psychology, survey analysis, national statistics, and more – describe how measurements of well-being can be used effectively to assess the progress of nations.
-“Measuring self-reported happiness and achieving well-being should be on every nation's agenda," said Jeffrey Sachs, the report's co-editor and director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, in a statement.
- "Human well-being should be nurtured through a holistic approach that combines economic, social and environmental objectives," Sachs said. "Rather than taking a narrow approach focused solely on economic growth, we should promote societies that are prosperous, just, and environmentally sustainable."
About the World Happiness Report
The Report is edited by Professor John F. Helliwell, of the University of British Columbia and the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research; Professor Richard Layard, Director of the Well-Being Programme at LSE’s Centre for Economic Performance; and Professor Jeffrey D. Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and SDSN.
The World Happiness Report is a landmark survey of the state of global happiness. The first report was published in 2012, the second in 2013, the third in 2015, and fourth 2016 Update edition was released today in Rome in advance of UN World Happiness Day, March 20th.