The Nordic regions have reigned supreme in a report produced to find out which is the 'Happiest' country in the world to live in. Norway was crowned No.1 - while neighbors Denmark and Iceland were placed second and third respectively. In addition to this, Sweden also made the Top Ten. However, the US 'happiness factor' continues to slide with a 14th place ranking.
The 'World Happiness Report' rank countries based on a series of different factors such as caring, freedom, honesty, health, income and good governance. A spokesman who headed the report said that the averages are so close between nations that even minor changes can re-order the rankings from year-to-year. For instance, Denmark was crowned No.1 last year, but has been dislodged by Norway.
The report was first commissioned in 2005 by research organization Gallup - who poll 1,000 residents per-country. The report is then compiled by Sustainable Development Solutions Network, a group linked to the United Nations and is led by economist Jeffrey D. Sachs who is known for 'The End of Poverty' and other literary works. Throughout the survey process when required Gallup seeks the permissions of national, regional and local governments to help piece the study together.
Norway's success has been credited by its decision to produce its oil slowly which has insulated itself from the boom and bust cycle of many other resource-rich economies. The report commented, "Norway moves to the top of the rankings despite weaker oil prices." Norway maintains its high happiness not because of its oil wealth, but in spite of it - because of its production decisions and investment in the proceeds for the future rather than spending them in the present."
However, it's a different story for global superpower USA who remains outside the Top Ten - it has continued to slide since 2007 when it was ranked as high as No.3 in the list - in relation to the US, the report said, "The predominant political discourse in the United States is aimed at raising economic growth, with the goal of restoring the American Dream and the happiness that is supposed to accompany it. But the data show conclusively that this is the wrong approach."
For those interviewed in the report, perception is reality. At least, as far as their happiness is concerned and, experts say, the divisive political climate likely hasn't helped. "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.
The Top 10 is as follows:
- New Zealand