A new report, the World Happiness Report 2016, prepared by Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and the Earth Institute at Columbia University, ranks 157 countries based on a variety of factors: people’s health and access to medical care, family relations, job security and social factors, including political freedom and degree of government corruption.
The main innovation of the World Happiness Report 2016 is, the authors note, the focus on inequality. “We have previously argued that happiness, as measured by life evaluations, provides a broader indicator of human welfare than do measures of income, poverty, health, education, and good government viewed separately”, they wrote in the introductory section of the report.
According to this report, Denmark is the happiest country in the world. This Scandinavian nation, with a population of 5.6 million, has topped the list twice since this type of reports started being produced back in 2012. Denmark is well known for its extensive and generous cradle-to-grave welfare. The population benefits from a health system where everybody has free access to a general practitioner and hospitals. Taxes pay for schools and universities, and students are given monthly grants for up to seven years, reports Al Jazeera.
Further down the list, we find that the United States ranked 13th, the United Kingdom 23rd, France 32nd , and Italy 50th.
At the other end of the spectrum sits Burundi, a landlocked country in East Africa. In addition to poverty, Burundians face corruption, weak infrastructure, poor access to health and education services, and hunger.
The report also drew attention to efforts some countries were making in ensuring its citizens remained happy. “Four national governments – Bhutan, Ecuador, the UAE and Venezuela – have appointed ministers of happiness responsible for coordinating their national efforts”, the report notes.