On World Happiness Day, the United Nations has named Switzerland the fourth happiest country in the world – right behind Norway, Denmark and Iceland.
Last year, Switzerland ranked Number 2; in 2015, it took first place. But the drop in the rankings is no reason to frown, according to the World Happiness Report 2017external link.
“All of the top four countries rank highly on all the main factors found to support happiness: caring, freedom, generosity, honesty, health, income and good governance. Their averages are so close that small changes can re-order the rankings from year to year,” explain the authors.
Produced by the UN’s Sustainable Development Solutions Networkexternal link, the annual World Happiness Report is based on measurements of well-being by experts in fields such as economics, health and psychology.
“Increasingly, happiness is considered to be the proper measure of social progress and the goal of public policy,” say the authors, pointing out that in June 2016, the OECDexternal link (a group of relatively wealthy countries) committed itself to redefining growth to put people’s well-being at the centre of governments’ efforts. And in February 2017, the United Arab Emirates held a full-day World Happiness meeting as part of the World Government Summit.
This year’s 188-page report emphasises the importance of the social foundations of happiness – things like having someone to count on in times of trouble. Other factors include GDP per capita and life expectancy, which “depend importantly on the social context” notes the report.
There are specific chapters devoted to China, Africa and the United States. Apparently, the Chinese are no happier today than they were 25 years ago – despite a steady increase in income over the past quarter of a century. China ranked 79th.
The US, which ranked third among OECD countries in 2007, placed 14th in this year’s World Happiness Report, which attributes the drop to declining social support and increased corruption. Of the 155 countries evaluated, the Central African Republic ranks last, with Burundi, Tanzania and Syria rounding out the bottom four.