Happiest countries also safest countries? Switzerland leads the list

Study also shows gender gap in life enjoyment

GENEVA – Switzerland has once again ranked as the Happiest Country in the World by the World Happiness Report, which assesses the well-being and happiness of countries’ residents – with happiness considered as a “proper measure of social progress.”

The Report, which has been published since 2012 by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, a UN initiative, takes into consideration “positive” factors that include enjoyment and well-being such as “feeling safe at night, feeling well-rested, and feeling interested.”

Switzerland leads the list followed by Iceland, Denmark, Norway, Canada, Finland, Netherlands, Sweden, New Zealand and Australia.

The top countries in the list, and those that continue to climb in the “happiness” ranking, score high marks in six “best possible life” factors:

GDP per capita, healthy years of life expectancy, social support (as measured by having someone to count on in times of trouble), trust (as measured by a perceived absence of corruption in government and business), perceived freedom to make life decisions, and generosity (as measured by recent donations, adjusted for differences in income).

The Report shows important gains in “happiness” in the Americas while indicating the opposite trend in Europe.

Greece, Italy and Spain show “largest declines in average life evaluations.” That is, these three European countries are among the “biggest happiness losers,” in the world (Greece being at the bottom of the list), most likely as a result of economic, political and social stresses.

“Happiness losers” outnumber gainers in Western Europe and to a lesser extent in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

The Geography of Happiness
Map provided by the World Happiness Report.

It is important to notice that the study indicates that the meaning of “well-being” varies around the world by gender, age and geographical location.

Enjoyment

The global data for enjoyment – one of the positive factors – shows a general downward trend with age. This is identical for males and females.

Females on average have “more enjoyment below the age of 40, while males have an enjoyment advantage at ages above 50.”

In general men tend to do more things to enjoy life responding positively to “having learned or done something interesting yesterday.”

Younger women report significantly more frequent experiences of happiness, laughter, enjoyment and feeling rested than do young men, but in all four instances the reported frequency drops significantly as women approach middle age, at which time there is a gender cross-over.

Ladies, let’s not let that happen!

World Happiness Report
Read / download the full report here.

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