The fifth World Happiness Report, edited by John F. Helliwell, co-director of CIFAR’s program in Social Interactions, Identity & Well Being, was released last month. The report ranks happiness across countries and examines the factors that affect it.
Although the top 10 countries remain the same as last year, there has been some shuffling of places. Norway moved up from fourth place to overtake Denmark at the top of the ranking. It was followed by Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland and Finland. Canada dropped from sixth to seventh place, beneath the Netherlands.
The World Happiness Report looks at trends in the data recording how highly people evaluate their lives on a scale running from 0 to 10. The rankings, which are based on surveys in 155 countries covering the three years 2014-2016, reveal an average score of 5.3 (out of 10). Six key variables explain three-quarters of the variation in annual national average scores over time and among countries: real GDP per capita, healthy life expectancy, having someone to count on, perceived freedom to make life choices, freedom from corruption, and generosity.
This year’s report emphasized the importance of social factors to happiness, noting that half of the top six key variables in happiness were about social support. The report also noted that in wealthy countries difference in happiness are largely unaffected by income, and have more to do with mental health, physical health and personal relationships.
Other editors included 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.
The top ten countries rank highly on all six of these factors:
- Norway (7.537)
- Denmark (7.522)
- Iceland (7.504)
- Switzerland (7.494)
- Finland (7.469)
- Netherlands (7.377)
- Canada (7.316)
- New Zealand (7.314)
- Australia (7.284)
- Sweden (7.284)