These are the 20 happiest countries

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The World Happiness Report 2019 is outside — Scandinavia remains pleased, the US requires a fall.

The World Happiness Report 2019, which positions 156 countries by how pleased their citizens perceive themselves to be, has only been published the United Nations.

The first World Happiness Report was published in service of the 2012 United Nations High Level Meeting on Happiness and Well-Being, which was itself in reaction the July 2011 Resolution of the UN General Assembly inviting countries to quantify the happiness of their people and to use this to help drive their public policies. Imagine, authorities taking into consideration the well-being of their constituents rather than things like money and power. What a idea.

With the publication of the 136-page World Happiness Report 2019, which is the seventh of the series, the situation is further strengthened that well-being ought to be an essential element in the way the world steps its economic and social improvement.

This newest report rated the countries using three decades of polls obtained by Gallup from 2016 into 2018. On webpage 91, the report explains: “Happiness was measured with the question, ‘Taken all together, how would you say things are these days – would you say that you are very happy, pretty happy, or not too happy?’ with the response choices coded 1, 2, or 3.”

Every year the report reads like a love letter to Scandinavia; this season is no exception. What is different for 2019 is the weak United States of America — we went from 13th to 14th location in 2017, tumbled to 18th location in 2018, and have sunk to 19th location — the worst ranking which the USA has received since the report has been set.

Here are the rankings for the happiest:

1. Finland
2. Denmark
3. Norway
4. Iceland
5. Netherlands
6. Switzerland
7. Sweden
8. New Zealand
9. Canada
10. Austria
11. Australia
12. Costa Rica
13. Israel
14. Luxembourg
15. United Kingdom
16. Ireland
17. Germany
18. Belgium
19. United States
20. Czech Republic

So what is going on with the The States? Co-writer Professor Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, writes on webpage 127:”As I mentioned in last year World Happiness Report (Sachs, 2018), the long-term rise in U.S. income per individual was accompanied by many tendencies damaging to SWB [subjective well-being]: worsening health conditions for much of the population; declining social trust; and declining confidence in government. Whatever benefits in SWB might have accrued as the consequence of rising incomes appear to have been offset from these negative tendencies. This year, I suggest a frequent driver of several of America’s social maladies: a mass-addiction society.”

On webpage 131, Sachs goes on to discuss the rising incidence of addictions, including opioids, Internet-associated, eating-related, and possibly others, and also the way these epidemics arrive with rising suicide rates and overdoses thanks to chemical abuse, rising obesity linked to eating addictions, along with rising adolescent depression seemingly associated with Internet and associated addictions.

What to do about it? With the U.S. currently having consecutive years of falling life expectancy and declining measured subjective well-being — something must change. Sachs writes, “A public policy response built around well-being rather than corporate profits would place the rising addiction rates under intensive and urgent scrutiny, and would design policies to respond to these rising challenges.” Measures he proposes, one of a list of amazing ideas, include stringent regulation of the prescription medicine industry, and also regulations to “limit advertising and to enforce warning messages regarding addictive products and activities, including digital technologies, obesogenic foods, lotteries and gambling activities.” The present administration’s propensity for decreasing regulation, rather than more stringent oversight, might not bode well for future happiness reports.

And if you are wondering the other conclusion of the list, these are the 10 countries where happiness is in short sequence:

146. Zimbabwe
147. Haiti
148. Botswana
149. Syria
150. Malawi
151. Yemen
152. Rwanda
153. Tanzania
154. Afghanistan
155. Central African Republic
156. South Sudan

The report, produced by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) with the assistance of the Ernesto Illy Foundation, is edited by Professor John F. Helliwell of the University of British Columbia and the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research; Professor Richard Layard, co-director of the Well-Being Programme in LSE’s Centre for Economic Performance; and Professor Sachs, director of SDSN and the Earth Institute’s Center on Sustainable Development.

You can view the entire report .

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