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Norway unseats Denmark as world's happiest country: Report

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Norway displaced Denmark as the world's happiest country in a new report released on Monday that called on nations to build social trust and equality to improve the wellbeing of their citizens.

The Nordic nations are the most content, according to the World Happiness Report 2017 produced by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), a global initiative launched by the United Nations in 2012.
© Reuters

Countries in sub-Saharan Africa, along with Syria and Yemen, are the least happy of the 155 countries ranked in the fifth annual report released at the United Nations.

"Happy countries are the ones that have a healthy balance of prosperity, as conventionally measured, and social capital, meaning a high degree of trust in a society, low inequality and confidence in government," Jeffrey Sachs, the director of the SDSN and a special advisor to the United Nations Secretary-General, said in an interview.

The aim of the report, he added, is to provide another tool for governments, business and civil society to help their countries find a better way to wellbeing.

Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, Finland, Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Sweden rounded out the top ten countries.

South Sudan, Liberia, Guinea, Togo, Rwanda, Tanzania, Burundi and the Central African Republic were at the bottom.

Germany was ranked 16, followed by the United Kingdom (19) and France (31). The United States dropped one spot to 14.
© Reuters

Sachs said the United States is falling in the ranking due to inequality, distrust and corruption. Economic measures that the administration of President Donald Trump is trying to pursue, he added, will make things worse.

"They are all aimed at increasing inequality - tax cuts at the top, throwing people off the healthcare rolls, cutting Meals on Wheels in order to raise military spending. I think everything that has been proposed goes in the wrong direction," he explained.

The rankings are based on six factors-per capita gross domestic product, healthy life expectancy, freedom, generosity, social support and absence of corruption in government or business.

"The lowest countries are typically marked by low values in all six variables," said the report, produced with the support of the Ernesto Illy Foundation.

Sachs would like nations to follow United Arab Emirates and other countries that have appointed Ministers of Happiness.

"I want governments to measure this, discuss it, analyze it and understand when they have been off on the wrong direction," he said.

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In pics: Countries where people are most satisfied with life
Countries Where People Are Most Satisfied With Life: <p>Traditionally, countries have been ranked by economic measures such as gross domestic product to determine the welfare of their people. Increasingly, though, social scientists have <a href="http://money.cnn.com/2014/06/30/news/economy/gross-national-happiness/">pushed</a> for a new metric to be measured: happiness. </p><p>Measuring happiness, as opposed to focusing solely on economic metrics, can capture a broader set of factors that influence the well-being of people, like inequality, freedom and health. Along those lines, the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network released its first World Happiness Report in 2012, <a href="http://worldhappiness.report/ed/2012/">arguing</a> that it makes sense “to pursue policies to raise the public’s happiness as much as it does to raise the public’s national income.” Since then, the SDSN has released updates in 2013, 2015 and <a href="http://worldhappiness.report/">most recently 2016</a>. </p><p>With the release of the 2016 report, <a href="http://www.findthedata.com/">FindTheData</a>, a data reference site by <a href="https://www.graphiq.com/">Graphiq</a>, ranked the countries with the happiest people. The report provides a happiness score for 157 countries and territories. Some countries, like North Korea, are not included due to a lack of data. To create the happiness score, the SDSN uses surveys from each country and weighs a variety of factors on a scale of zero to 10. Some of the relevant factors include GDP per capita, social support, healthy life expectancy and freedom to make life choices.</p><p>When possible, the SDSN includes each country's change in happiness from 2005-07 to 2013-15. For some countries there was an insufficient number of observations for both time periods to include the difference. The SDSN also includes the standard deviation of happiness for each country for the 2012-2015 period.</p><p>From the data, it’s clear that the richest countries aren’t always the happiest. The three countries with the <a href="http://databank.worldbank.org/data/download/GDP.pdf">highest GDP</a> — U.S., China and Japan — are all absent from the top 10. In its original report, the SDSN <a href="http://worldhappiness.report/ed/2012/">noted</a> that countries can achieve economic development, “yet along the way succumb to new crises of obesity, smoking, diabetes, depression, and other ills of modern life.”</p><p>In general, it appears that Nordic countries have avoided many of these ills, occupying five of the top 10 spots. But even for the happiest of the bunch, no country scores above an eight. Only one country from South America makes the top 20, and no countries from Africa are in the top 30. Greece experienced the largest drop in happiness from 2005-07 to 2013-15, likely due to <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/business/international/greece-debt-crisis-euro.html?_r=0">economic turmoil</a>, while Nicaragua saw the greatest increase. </p> Countries Where People Are Most Satisfied With Life

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