Atlas of happiness

The happiest countries in the world have been ranked in the latest World Happiness Report. Norway has snatched the title, jumping up from 4th last year and knocking Denmark into second place.
The Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), a global initiative for the United Nations, has just published this year’s World Happiness Report. The SDSN employs an international group of economists, neuroscientists and statisticians to survey citizens on their subjective wellbeing and produce a comprehensive annual list of the happiest countries in the world.

ASSESSING HAPPINESS
SDSN highlight that their rankings are not an index like the longer running Human Development Index (HDI) and more recent Happy Planet Index (HPI). These are often influenced by sponsors and draw only partly on self-assessment – or make no use of it at all.
SDSN stress that their findings draw heavily on data from population samples in each country, using a life evaluation survey to produce subjective wellbeing data.
The report principally relies on asking a straightforward, subjective question of more than 1,000 people in more than 150 countries:
Imagine a ladder, with steps numbered from 0 at the bottom to 10 at the top.
The top of the ladder represents the best possible life for you and the bottom of the ladder represents the worst possible life for you. On which step of the ladder would you say you personally feel you stand at this time?

That is not to say the report is without a scientific basis. Economic and social influences are considered along with the survey (namely GDP per capita, social support, life expectancy, freedom to make life choices, generosity and perceptions of corruption), but the focus is on how happy citizens say they are; not how happy statisticians think they should be.
THE GEOGRAPHY OF HAPPINESS

Unsurprisingly, there is a strong correlation between unhappiness and the poorest and most dangerous countries. Troubled sub-Saharan African states along with Syria, Yemen and South Sudan account for the vast majority of the lowest rankings. Central African Republic is ranked the least happiest country in the world.
Rather predictably, North American and European (particularly Scandinavian) countries feature highly in the happiest countries in the world. Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland and Finland round out the top five while the US and UK are ranked 14th and 19th respectively.
Some other key headlines include:
“People in China are no happier than 25 years ago” – see chapter 3 for more information.
“Much of Africa is struggling” – see chapter 4 for more information.
“Happiness has fallen in America” – see chapter 7 for more information.
RANKING THE HAPPIEST COUNTRIES IN THE WORLD
RANK
COUNTRY
SCORE
1
Norway
7.537
2
Denmark
7.522
3
Iceland
7.504
4
Switzerland
7.494
5
Finland
7.469
6
Netherlands
7.377
7
Canada
7.316
8
New Zealand
7.314
9
Australia
7.284
10
Sweden
7.284
11
Israel
7.213
12
Costa Rica
7.079
13
Austria
7.006
14
United States
6.993
15
Ireland
6.977
16
Germany
6.951
17
Belgium
6.891
18
Luxembourg
6.863
19
United Kingdom
6.714
20
Chile
6.652
21
United Arab Emirates
6.648
22
Brazil
6.635
23
Czech Republic

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