Four EU members make up top 10 ranking of ‘happiest countries’

Danes emerged as the happiest EU citizens. [Lars Plougmann/ Flickr]

Only Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands and Sweden have made it into the top ten of the United Nations’ latest World Happiness Report, released today (20 March) to coincide with the UN’s International Day of Happiness.

Norway has been judged to be the happiest country in the world. Denmark, last year’s ‘Happiest Country’, this time ranks second in the World Happiness Report.

Norway was ranked fourth in last year’s report and jumped to the top this year on the basis of several key calculations for measuring social happiness, among them levels of caring, freedom to make life decisions, generosity, good governance, honesty, health and income.

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Finland ranks 5th, the Netherlands 6th and Sweden is 10th.

Non-EU European countries in the top league include Iceland and Switzerland, who rank 3rd and 4th, respectively.

The EU’s largest country, Germany, ranks 16th, followed immediately by Belgium. France only placed 31st.

Spain is 34th. Italy is 48th, next to Russia, 49th.

Greece ranks 87th and the EU’s unhappiest country is Bulgaria, which fails to make it into the top 100, placing only 105th.

Other factors by which 155 countries were measured in the annual World Happiness Report are: employment, income inequality, life expectancy, GDP per capita, public trust (i.e., a lack of corruption in government and business), and social support.

Ranking of Happiness 2014-2016 (top 20)

  1. Norway
  2. Denmark
  3. Iceland
  4. Switzerland
  5. Finland
  6. Netherlands
  7. Canada
  8. New Zealand
  9. Australia
  10. Sweden
  11. Israel
  12. Costa Rica
  13. Austria
  14. United States
  15. Ireland
  16. Germany
  17. Belgium
  18. Luxembourg
  19. United Kingdom
  20. Chile

The bottom five countries on the list are Rwanda, Syria, Tanzania, Burundi, and Central African Republic.

People in China are not happier than 25 years ago, the report finds, much of Africa is struggling, and the United States slid in the rankings one place, from 13th last year to 14th.

Finland tops Europe's first-ever ‘Nanny State’ index

Finland is the most heavily regulated country in Europe when it comes to alcohol, food and drinks, e-cigarettes and tobacco laws, followed by Sweden, the UK and Ireland, according to a new Nanny State Index published on Tuesday (5 April).

Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, and a co-author of the report, says attention must be drawn to the importance of creating sound policy for what matters most to people: their well-being.

“As demonstrated by many countries, this report gives evidence that happiness is a result of creating strong social foundations,” Sachs said. “It’s time to build social trust and healthy lives, not guns or walls. Let’s hold our leaders to this fact.”