Just like beauty, happiness is very subjective - What makes one person happy does not necessarily work for another. Yet there are various agencies that attempt to gauge the happiness of entire nations using disparate criteria. The most recent 'World Happiness Report' was released by the United Nations on September 9th and without further ado, here are the results . . .
The good news is that between 2010-2012, the 156 nations surveyed for this report have overall become slightly (by 0.5%) happier then they were when the 2012 report which used data from 2005-2007, was published.
As to who is the happiest of all? That honor goes to the people of Denmark which scored a high 7.7 out of a maximum of 10 in the survey that was taken by 3,000 residents and included questions about income, mental and physical health, social support - i.e. having someone they could rely on, freedom to make their own choices, living under a government that is not corrupt and last but not least, their willingness to help others.
Following closely behind were Norway, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Sweden. The US unfortunately placed all the way down to 17 and what was even sadder is that the happiness level of its residents declined by 0.283% as did that of the people of Japan, Hungary and Finland.
Given the political unrest in Egypt and the economic woes in Greece, it came as no big surprise that the biggest declines in happiness levels were experienced there. Nor was the fact that the overall joy levels of the countries undergoing the 'Arab Spring' in the Middle East and North Africa, declined by 11.7%. As for the unhappiest countries in the world? Those happened to be poor third world countries like Central African Republic which came in at 154, Benin which came in at 155 and tiny Togo,which placed last!
This is not the only survey that tries to determine how happy the residents of a country are. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) also publishes a similar report using slightly different criteria. Their latest report also placed the European countries of Sweden, Norway, Switzerland and Denmark high on the list of happiness. The only difference? Their top pick was Australia. Of course the Happy Planet Index produced by U.K..'s New Economics Foundation begs to differ - They rank Costa Rica, Vietnam and Colombia as the top three because their focus is based primarily on environmental impact!