The world’s happiest countries

The United Nations recently released its first ever World Happiness Report, and Canada ranked quite high at fifth place after Denmark, Finland, Norway and the Netherlands.

Despite the wealthiest countries ranking the highest — and the poorest countries ranking the lowest — those gathered at the UN summit in New York claimed a country’s wealth doesn’t equate to its level of happiness.

The meeting to launch the report was held in Bhutan, a tiny Himalayan nation that garnered international attention 30 years ago when it tracked its Gross National Happiness.

Bhutan’s Prime Minister Lyonchhen Jigmi Y.Thinley wants other countries to do the same.

“The [gross domestic product]-led development model that compels boundless growth on a planet with limited resources no longer makes economic sense. It is the cause of our irresponsible, immoral and self-destructive actions,” he said at the conference. “The purpose of development must be to create enabling conditions through public policy for the pursuit of the ultimate goal of happiness by all citizens.”

Jeffrey Sachs, the economist who edited the World Happiness Report, noted happiness could be achieved free of GNP measured financial well-being.

“GNP (gross national product) by itself does not promote happiness,” he said at the conference. “The U.S. 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.”

It was also pointed out that some of the richest countries like the United States, Britain, Japan and China didn’t even make the top 10, with China coming up near the bottom at 111th.

The report went into great detail about the algorithms that were used to measure each countries happiness, even quoting the likes of Buddha and Aristotle to make their case.

It noted that social factors such as the absence of corruption, strength of social support and personal freedom held more importance than money.

The report also listed some suggestions for countries to promote their citizens’ happiness, including reinforcing social systems, limiting greenhouse gas emissions, improving mental health services, helping people meet their basic needs, promoting physical health and helping individuals resist extreme commercialism.

The top 10 happiest coutries are:

1. Denmark
2. Finland
3. Norway
4. Netherlands
5. Canada
6. Switzerland
7. Sweden
8. New Zealand
9. Australia
10. Ireland

Sources: World Happiness Report, Yahoo

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