World Happiness Report, 2017
Since the year 2012, the World Happiness Report has been published as a part of the UN High Level Meeting on happiness and well-being. The report is part of a growing effort to place citizen wellbeing at the center of decisions made by governments. The factors that the World Happiness Report deem as being most beneficial to achieving and maintaining happiness are: GDP per capita, healthy years of life expectancy, social support, level of trust in society, absence of government and company corruption, perceived sense of freedom, and generosity (as measured by amount of donations made).
The Happiest Countries of 2017
Norway has jumped from its position of fourth happiest country in 2016 to 2017's top country. Norway's top position is notable for its presence in spite of the drop in oil prices, on which the Norwegian economy is considerably, although not exclusively, dependent upon. Norway has avoided dependence by good governance practices that include investing proceeds in the future instead of spending in a present as a way to avoid boom and bust.
The remaining countries in the top ten (Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, Finland, the Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and Sweden) are all repeats from 2016's findings, although their order has been shuffled. The 2017 report notes that the difference in ranking between these top ten countries is so negligible that a slight re-ordering is bound to happen.
The United States holds the 14th position on the 2017 measurement scale. The growth of income equality where the top 1 percent of American households now own 23% of all income, the rise of mortality rates, and a drop in social support systems have all been blamed for the position of the United States. Another interesting note from the study was that although the GDP of China has multiplied by extreme amounts over the past few decades, the measure of happiness in China appears to have remained similar to measures taken before economic prosperity. Lastly, it was found in this report that happiness levels in Africa appear to be lower than average. The report reminds readers that African countries experienced centuries of colonialism, slavery, and apartheid before gaining independence. The democracy that many countries are experiencing today has been described as "the third wave". The report does not underestimate the imprint that these experiences have left, although the reasons for the reported "unhappiness" are incredibly varied, as Africa is a continent home to a rich variety of cultures and countries each facing unique challenges.
Happiest Countries in the World, 2017