World’s Happiest Countries 2013

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Scandinavian countries topped the list in the World Happiness Report 2013.

World's Happiest Countries 2013
World’s Happiest Countries 2013

In his graduation speech Bill Watterson, the creator of the legendary comic strip, Calvin and Hobbes coerced us to make a distinction between desire and happiness.

While a desire stems from attaining goals that have been rated as measures of success by others, happiness is a very personal possession.

As quoted by the man himself; “Having an enviable career is one thing, and being a happy person is another.”

The state of happiness then, becomes an essential component to measure the success of any population. That is the reason why the second edition of the World Happiness Report published by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), under the auspices of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, is calling on policy makers around the globe to make the state of well-being of their nations a key measure and target of development.

Denmark topped the list in the latest World Happiness Report 2013
Beautiful Denmark. The Scandinavian country topped the list in the latest World Happiness Report 2013

According to Professor Jeffrey D. Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, Director of the SDSN, and Special Advisor to the UN Secretary General:

“There is now a rising worldwide demand that policy be more closely aligned with what really matters to people as they themselves characterize their well-being. More and more world leaders are talking about the importance of well-being as a guide for their nations and the world. The World Happiness Report 2013 offers rich evidence that the systematic measurement and analysis of happiness can teach us a lot about ways to improve the world’s well-being and sustainable development.”

The first World Happiness Report released in 2012 focused on happiness and well-being.

The 2013 report goes further. It delves in more detail into the analysis of the global happiness data, examining trends over time and breaking down each country’s score into its component parts, so that citizens and policy makers can understand their country’s ranking.

According to the report, northern Europe is the happiest region in the world. Denmark, Norway, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Sweden are countries with the highest levels of happiness.

Rwanda, Burundi, the Central African Republic, Benin and Togo, nations in Sub-Saharan Africa, were surveyed to be the least content with the state of affairs they are living in.

World Ranking of Happiness 2013
World Ranking of Happiness 2013

The World Happiness Report 2013 reveals fascinating trends in the data judging just how happy countries really are. On a scale running from 0 to 10, people in over 150 countries, surveyed by Gallup over the period 2010-12, reveal a population-weighted average score of 5.1 (out of 10). Six key variables explain three-quarters of the variation in annual national average scores over time and among countries. These six factors include: real GDP per capita, healthy life expectancy, having someone to count on, perceived freedom to make life choices, freedom from corruption, and generosity.

Convergence of global happiness. The Report shows significant changes in happiness in countries over time, with some countries rising and others falling over the past five years. There is some evidence of global convergence of happiness levels, with happiness gains more common in Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America, and losses more common among the industrial countries. For the 130 countries with data available, happiness (as measured by people’s own evaluations of their lives) significantly improved in 60 countries and worsened in 41.

So, what affects happiness? This has been the key issue for policy makers. Some studies show mental health to be the single most important determinant of whether a person is happy or not. Yet, even in rich countries, less than a third of mentally ill people are in treatment. Good and cost-effective treatments do exist for depression, anxiety disorders and psychosis, and the happiness of the world would be greatly increased if they were more widely available.

The side-effects of happiness. Happy people live longer, are more productive, earn more, and are also better citizens. According to the report Well-being should be developed both for its own sake and for its side-effects.

UAE ‘Happiest Country’ in the Arab World

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) topped the list of the happiest countries in the Arab World. UAE was ranked 14, ahead of other advanced economies including the United States of America (17), United Kingdom(22), France (25) and Singapore (30).

One of the richest countries in the world, Qatar, was ranked 27 while Oman stood at 23. Meanwhile, the top oil producer in the region Saudi Arabia was ranked 33, and Kuwait (32) came ahead of it.

How do you define Happiness? What does Happiness mean to you? Which country do you live in? Are you satisfied with life in the country that you are living? Do you have a dream country that you wish to live in? Let us know in the comments!

Photos: oxfordian/Flickr, Spreng Ben/Flickr

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