Is it possible to measure the happiness of a population? The World Happiness Report sets out to do exactly this by measuring things like overall well-being, diversity, environment, housing, and political stability. Their latest ranking puts Finland at the top of the list as the happiest country in the world. Let's see what other countries rank highly.
Australia has plenty of reasons to be happy. The unemployment rate here is quite low with only 5.5% of the population being unemployed. The minimum wage of the country is $16 USD, double that of the United States and as per global reports, this is one of the highest minimum wages in the world. Besides economic stability and prosperity, low crime rates, high life expectancy, a sound healthcare system offering excellent medical services, a well-planned and organized education system, sufficient infrastructural facilities, and a clean environment are the other factors that keep the Australians satisfied and happy. Finally, an overall positive attitude towards life is what makes Aussies one of the happiest people in the world.
Though Sweden manages to rank as the 10th most happiest country in the world, the Swedes appear not be too happy about their country’s current global ranking. Two years back, Sweden was the 5th happiest country in the world and, only a year back, the 8th happiest country. The gradual loss of position appears to indicate that Swedes are getting unhappier but experts say that there is no reason to worry yet and that the countries appearing in the list only differ in rankings by extremely narrow margins. The economic stability and prosperity of Sweden, the honest government of the country and the supportive Swedish society are held to be the prime factors responsible for the country’s happiness.
8. New Zealand
New Zealanders rank one step higher than their Australian neighbors when it comes to being happy. Various factors are held responsible for the high rates of happiness among the Kiwis. 73% of the country’s population, aged between 15 and 64, hold a well-paid job. The Kiwis are also highly literate with 74% of adults completing higher secondary education. New Zealand has a well-developed healthcare system, ensuring good care of its citizens' health, as reflected by the longer than high average life expectancy at birth of 82 years. The country is also famous for its clean natural resources and low levels of pollution. 89% of the country’s population claim to be satisfied with the water quality levels offered here. All these reasons ensure the Kiwis feel safe and secure in their country in all aspects of life, making them quite happy.
Canada is a happy country due to a variety of factors, such as economic stability, social security, positive work-life balance, honest governments, being responsible for keeping the Canadians happy. Average life expectancy in the country in 2009 was 81.2 years and in 2012, the average annual per capita income in the country was as high as $36,138. Canadians also like to spend quality time with their family and friends after working hours and strong social ties make the people here feel happy and secure. Canadians also take good care of their environment and are peace loving in nature. The country and its people as a whole focus on the positive aspects of life, support multiculturalism and share strong community bonds.
6. The Netherlands
Netherlands is one of the best places to stay in the world where more than 80% of the population claim to be satisfied with their lives and living conditions. Very few Dutch complain about their work life as they know how to balance their work and personal life extremely well. The short working hours and the high rates of minimum wage ensure the Dutch spend quality time with family after working hours. Dutch children are also considered to have the best childhoods with a healthy home environment where parents are open and communicative and performance pressures are low.
Switzerland, the beautiful Alpine country in Europe is also one of the happiest countries in the world. The average life expectancy at birth of the citizens of this country is as high as 82.8. The Swiss have high levels of income and low working hours, allowing them to enjoy plenty of quality time with friends and family. Love of nature and the urge to spend time outdoors is believed to nurture the feelings of optimism among the Swiss people. The people of this country also enjoy excellent health and other infrastructural facilities that allow them to live a healthy and comfortable life. The country also maintains high environmental standards providing its citizens with plenty of clean air and clean water and little to complain about. A little artisan Swiss chocolate doesn't hurt either.
Another cold and dark country of the Northern Hemisphere, Iceland is full of happy and warm glowing faces. The population of Iceland enjoy a great number of privileges, peace, and social security and are both healthy and wealthy. Iceland is also the only NATO country with no standing army. Iceland has one of the highest GDPs in the world, a booming export business, high per capita income and high minimum wage rates. The Icelandic women are also highly regarded and socially very secure. Iceland also has rich natural wealth and clean environment that boosts the satisfaction levels of its citizens.
Denmark has all the facilities enjoyed by members of a developed world and even more. Healthcare and education system in the country is free for all its citizens. The unemployment schemes of the country attempt to encourage its unemployed citizens to find work. Denmark’s government funding for the benefit of the elderly and children is the highest in the world. Minimum wages in Denmark are as high as $20 USD per hour. The Danes also enjoy a high sense of security in the country which has an extremely low crime rate and a negligible amount of corruption. The people of this country are also environmentally highly conscious and tend to prefer riding bicycles over car while commuting to work or elsewhere. The Danes are also very open-minded and generous. As per the World Giving Index, 67% of Danes claim to help strangers in need as well.
Norway is a peaceful country of plenty. The low density of population here (only 14 people per square kilometer) ensures that equitable distribution of wealth and natural resources is possible in this country. The healthcare facilities in the country are excellent and the average life expectancy at birth is as high as 81 years. Norway also has very low crime rates and an even lower rate of re-offenders. By treating its prisoners in a humane manner, Norway ensures they transform to better persons. Norwegians are also extremely concerned about the environment with 32,000 electricity run cars plying on the streets of the country in an attempt to replace fossil fuel-dependent automobiles. Educational facilities and other infrastructure in the country is also well developed. All these factors keep the people of this northern country happy about their lives.
Quite surprisingly, the people of Finland, a country with severely cold weather and dark Arctic winters, are much more happy than the residents of many other developed countries of the world which offer more warmth and sunshine-filled days to their citizens. Several factors are considered to be responsible for the happiness of the Finnish people. Economic stability and security, high wages, honest governments, low levels of corruption, and high literacy rates keep the people of this country relatively stress-free. The socioeconomic gap among the Finnish population is also quite low. The Finnish society is also broad-viewed and highly tolerant in nature. Health care, education, and other infrastructural facilities are also well equipped and sufficient to serve the Finnish population to a satisfactory level. The people of this country also like to maintain a healthy work life balance with less working hours and plenty of annual vacations to keep life stress free.
About the Author
Oishimaya is an Indian native, currently residing in Kolkata. She has earned her Ph.D. degree and is presently engaged in full-time freelance writing and editing. She is an avid reader and travel enthusiast and is sensitively aware of her surroundings, both locally and globally. She loves mingling with people of eclectic cultures and also participates in activities concerning wildlife conservation.
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