Israel ranks 14th in the United Nations’ World Happiness Report; Denmark, Finland, Norway and Netherlands top list; U.S. ranks 11th.
The report lists Denmark, Finland, Norway and the Netherlands as the world’s happiest countries, with the United States ranking at 11th place and the United Kingdom at 18th place.
The report aims to “review the state of happiness in the world today and show how the new science of happiness explains personal and national variations in happiness.”
The rankings, based on a “life evaluation score,” measure factors including health, job security, personal freedom and degree of political corruption.
According to the report, the least happy countries include Burundi, Sierra Leone, Central African Republic, Benin and Togo.
One of the primary goals of the report was to challenge the notion that happiness is directly correlated to wealth.
“While basic living standards are essential for happiness, after the baseline has been met happiness varies more with the quality of human relationship than with income,” the report explains.
“GNP (gross national product) by itself does not promote happiness,” said Jeffery Sachs, economist at Columbia University who assisted in editing the report. “The US has had a three time increase of GNP per capita since 1960, but the happiness needle hasn’t budged. Other countries have pursued other policies and achieved much greater gains of happiness, even at much lower levels of per capita income.”
According to the report, the most important factor affecting happiness is mental health. The report also found that job security and amiable relationships with co-workers were more important than salary and convenient hours.
In more advanced countries women are believed to be happier than men, while in less privileged countries the results are mixed.
By Rachel Hirshfeld