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UN: Danes are the happiest

Denmark is the happiest nation in the world, followed closely by it's Nordic neighbors, says first ever UN-sponsored World Happiness Report

The first ever United Nations World Happiness Report awards Denmark first place – making it the happiest nation in the world. It is closely followed by it’s Nordic neighbors. Finland received second place, Norway got third and the Netherlands fourth. According to the report, the least happy country in the world is Togo.

The report was commissioned for the United Nations and released at the United Nations Conference on Happiness on April 2, 2012. The report was conducted by the Earth Institute of Columbia University and co-edited by the Institute’s director, Jeffrey Sachs. It is a first report of it’s kind.

The report shows a striking difference between top and bottom. On a scale from nil to ten, Denmark has an average life evaluation score close to eight. Togo’s life evaluation score is close to three.

But I was not so happy yesterday

In the report wealthy nations hold top places while poor nations are in the bottom of the happiness scales. However, according to the report, wealth is not what makes people happy. Political freedom, social networks and an absence of corruption are more important factors when explaining well-being differences between the top and bottom countries, the report says.

At the individual level, good mental and physical health, someone to count on, job security and stable families are crucial.

Although Denmark scores high on most scales in the report, it is not on the top on the scale when it comes to measuring people’s self-report of how happy they were, specifically, yesterday. On this scale Denmark is number one hundred, while Ireland takes first place, followed by Thailand at second place.

Cultural differences?

The difference might be due – and this is pure speculation, not in the report – to a cultural difference in the actual responses to happiness questions, with Danes possibly more likely to say they are happy, but not when questioned about a specific day.

Read the full report here.

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