The World Happiness Report has released its annual list of happiest countries, and Norway has won the top spot. The study, which has been ongoing since 2012, ranks 155 countries on metrics like gross domestic product per person, healthy life expectancy, and global surveys.
The United States fell from 13th to 14th on the list, with the UK being 19th. The report cites that while incomes in the US have risen over the past decade, happiness has declined.
“It’s the human things that matter. If the riches make it harder to have frequent and trustworthy relationships between people, is it worth it?” asked John Helliwell, the lead author of the report. “The material can stand in the way of the human.”
It seems that while income is a factor in happiness, eventually the extra money does nothing to improve the happiness of a community or individual. It is also worth noting that most of the top-ranking countries have already adopted universal healthcare for their citizens.
The Central African Republic ranked last on the list, with Burundi, Tanzania, Syria, and Rwanda rounding out the bottom. Most of the lowest ranking countries suffered from desperate poverty along with civil unrest and war-related violence.
So, what works so well in Norway? According to Jeffrey Sachs, American economist and Professor at Columbia University, its a sense of community that has deteriorated in the US.
“We’re becoming more and more mean-spirited. And our government is becoming more and more corrupt. And inequality is rising,” Sachs said, “It’s a long-term trend and conditions are getting worse.
See the top 10 happiest countries below:
8. New Zealand