Medicine

Getting sadder? Denmark slips to third in new World Happiness Report

Getting sadder? Denmark slips to third in new World Happiness Report

The survey ranks 156 countries based on a number of factors including gross domestic product per person, freedom of choice, trust, health, life expectancy, social support and generosity.

Finland was followed by Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, Sweden, and Australia.

The World Happiness Report, published Wednesday, studied the happiness levels of 156 countries.

In the latest report, Finland, which ranked fifth in the previous report, pushed Norway to the second place.

The explanation becomes even more complete when account is taken of global differences in a new Gallup index of migrant acceptance, based on local attitudes towards immigrants, as detailed in an Annex to the Report.

Its largest immigrant groups come from other European nations, but there also are communities from Afghanistan, China, Iraq and Somalia.

"That Finland is the top scorer is remarkable", said Meik Wiking of the Happiness Research Institute in Denmark.

The report, which also analyzed the effects of immigration on a country's happiness, found that those who move to more desirable countries generally become happier, while a move to one of the low-ranking countries can depress a person's quality of life.

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Finland, for example, tops the list of countries with the happiest immigrant populations as well. [Israel's ranking on the happiness index] keeps going up, and people say, 'How can it be?

Happiness revealed in the survey comes from healthy amounts of both personal freedom and social security, outweighing "some of the highest taxes in the world", Wiking said to AP.

The United States is not the world's happiest place.

"America's subjective wellbeing is being systematically undermined by three interrelated epidemic diseases, notably obesity, substance abuse (especially opioid addiction) and depression", said Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University in NY, and one of the report's authors.

It added that the "sociopolitical system" in the United States produces more income inequality - a major contributing factor to unhappiness - than other countries with comparatively high incomes.

"The US happiness ranking is falling, in part because of the ongoing epidemics of obesity, substance abuse, and untreated depression", said Jeffrey D. Sachs, another co-editor of the report.

In countries with high migrant acceptance indexes - that is, countries where the populace is generally receptive to newcomers - immigrants "are happier than their other circumstances would indicate, and so were the people who were born there", Dr. Helliwell said.


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