Who's happy, who's not: Norway tops list, US falls

Posted March 21, 2017

In 2017, the World Happiness Report (WHR) found that happiness is less evident in Africa than in other regions of the world. The top ten includes seven European countries.

Ranked at 76 globally in the 2015 World Happiness Report released by the United Nations on Thursday, Somalia is the happiest country in the region, followed by Kenya at 122.

The authors said "six factors - GDP per capita, social support, healthy life expectancy, social freedom, generosity and absence of corruption - explain nearly three-quarters of the variation across different countries".

The slight downside is that Kiwis are not quite as happy now as they were between 2005 and 2007. "The United States can and should raise happiness by addressing America's multi-faceted social crisis - rising inequality, corruption, isolation, and distrust - rather than focusing exclusively or even mainly on economic growth, especially since the concrete proposals along these lines would exacerbate rather than ameliorate the deepening social crisis", the report said.

"This report gives special attention to the social foundations of happiness for individuals and nations... this can be seen by comparing the life experiences between the top and bottom ten countries in this year's happiness rankings", the report said.

Because this report is about a subject as vague as "happiness" and people are not good at parsing the credibility of social science, it is nearly certain that those in power will use it to advance a prescriptive agenda that is diametrically opposite from the one described above.

SA is ranked 101 in the annual World Happiness Report, released on Monday.

Top-ranked countries by average levels of happiness from 2014-16.

The results are based on data from surveys that use six criteria to assess the happiness levels in each country: healthy life expectancy, GDP per capita, social support, perceptions of freedom to make life choices, generosity of donations, and perceptions of corruption.

All the best-performing countries are the same as last year, and the year before, although their order has shifted slightly.

In Asia-Pacific, the kingdom trailed only New Zealand (6), Australia (9) and Singapore (26).

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

"Income differences matter more in poorer countries, but even there mental illness is a major source of misery".

It also said, "Work is also a major factor affecting 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 U.S., however, missed out on a spot in the top 10.

People are unhappiest in Rwanda, Syria, Tanzania, Burundi and the Central African Republic which ranks last.