World’s Happiest and Saddest People

World’s Happiest and Saddest PeopleWorld’s Happiest and Saddest People

Switzerland leads the list of the world’s happiest countries this year followed by Iceland, Denmark, Norway and Canada, Finland, Netherlands, Sweden, New Zealand, says the World Happiness Report 2015, which surveyed critical indicators in 158 nations.

The least happy countries are: Togo (158), Burundi, Syria, Benin, Syria, Afghanistan, Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast.  The U.S. is the 15th happiest country just behind Mexico (14) but ahead of Brazil (16) and Britain (21), while Japan ranks (46), Russia (64), China (84), and Iran (110).

Since it was first published in 2012, the report demonstrated that well-being and happiness are critical indicators of a nation’s economic and social development, and should be a key aim of policy. This year’s report looks at the changes in happiness levels and examines the reasons behind the statistics. It also comes in advance of three high-level negotiations that will give world leaders the opportunity to reshape the global agenda and move the world towards a sustainable development agenda that includes well-being as an essential element, reports

The annual rankings aim to quantify happiness using Gallup World Poll data that asked people to evaluate the quality of their own lives on a scale of zero to 10.

The report, produced by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), contains analysis from leading experts in the fields of economics, neuroscience, national statistics, and describes how measurements of subjective well-being can be used effectively to assess national progress.

The report is edited by Prof. John F. Helliwell, of the University of  British Columbia and the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research; Prof. Richard Layard, Director of the Well-Being Program at LSE’s Centre for Economic Performance; and Prof. Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute and SDSN.

 Social Capital

The latest report also digs deeper into the data looking at country trends since the first report, regional indicators, factors in gender and age, and the importance of investing in social capital.

“As the science of happiness advances, we are getting to the heart of what factors define quality of life for citizens,” said Helliwell. “We are encouraged that more and more governments around the world are listening and responding with policies that put well-being first. Countries with strong social and institutional capital not only support greater well-being, but are more resilient to social and economic crises.”

The report reveals trends in the data judging just how happy countries really are. Six key variables explain three-quarters of the variation in annual national average scores over time and among countries: real GDP per capita, healthy life expectancy, having someone to count on, perceived freedom to make life choices, freedom from corruption, and generosity.