Norway has long been considered one of the best countries in the world in which to live, and now it tops the world’s “global happiness rankings” as well. It grabbed the top spot away from Denmark, which now ranks second.
The World Happiness Report was first compiled in 2012, after the UN’s General Assembly had passed a resolution inviting member countries to measure the happiness of their people, and then use the report to guide social policy. This year’s report, published by the UN’s Sustainable Development Solution Network, was supported by a three-year grant from the Ernesto Illy Foundation.
Norway won the top spot based on main factors such as their extent of freedom, health, income, generosity, honesty and governance. The new report noted how Norway achieved the top spot even though the country has been through a difficult economic period in recent years since oil prices collapsed. That led to major cuts in Norway important offshore oil and gas industry.
“It is sometimes said that Norway achieves and maintains its high happiness not because of its oil wealth, but in spite of it,” the UN report noted. “By choosing to produce its oil slowly, and investing the proceeds for the future rather than spending them in the present (through its sovereign wealth fund known as the Oil Fund), Norway has insulated itself from the boom-and-bust cycle of many other resource-rich economies.”
The UN’s Sustainable Development Solution Network added that Norway’s formula for handling its oil wealth “requires high levels of mutual trust, shared purpose, generosity and good governance, all factors that help to keep Norway and other top countries where thay are in the happiness ranking.”
Those other countries include Denmark, Iceland and Switzerland, which ranked second, third and fourth respectively and were described, along with Norway, as “a tightly packed bunch” that score so closely that small changes can re-order their rankings from year to year. Norway was fourth last year, for example, but grabbed the top spot based on the six “key variables” used to explain happiness difference among countries and over time: income, healthy life expectance, having someone to rely on in times of trouble, generosity, freedom and trust.
The countries rounding out the top 10 included Finland in 5th place followed by the Netherlands, Canada and New Zealand, with Australia and Sweden tied for the 9th-10th place.
To read the entire “World Happiness Report for 2017,” click here (external link).