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Happiness is simple and extremely complicated at the same time. This can also be seen if you study the methodology for the “World Happiness Report” of the United Nations. The latest edition was presented in March 2019. It is based on data from the Gallup polling institute. Every year that asks people in more than 140 countries the simple question: How happy are you?
The feeling of happiness is determined with the help of a ladder symbolism. The bottom rung corresponds to 1, the top rung 10. The participants are asked how high up they see themselves. "The World Happiness Report is the first report that rates countries according to how their populations feel," says Gallup, describing the essence of the study. Participants are not asked why they are happy or unhappy. Gallup wants to differentiate itself from “rational” studies that try to determine people's supposed happiness on the basis of hard factors (income, unemployment rate, etc.).
Reasons for happiness
However, the United Nations added these very objective factors in its happiness report to provide clues as to the cause of happiness (or its absence) in the individual countries. So the UN is going in the opposite direction. First comes the happiness, then the explanation. The country ranking itself is based exclusively on the so-called ladder question.
In addition, the study attempts to quantify happiness based on six factors:
- GDP per capita (purchasing power parity)
- Life expectancy
- social safety net (can friends or relatives help in an emergency?)
- personal freedom (can you shape your life however you want?)
- Generosity (was there a charity in the past month?)
- Corruption (is corruption widespread in government and business?)
The happiness report also provides key figures for positive and negative emotions. To this end, the study participants were asked whether they had laughed or been annoyed the day before.
For this year's study (the seventh of its kind), people in 156 countries were interviewed. These are the happiest countries in the world for 2019.
# 10 Austria
Compared to the “World Happiness Report 2018”, Austria was able to improve by two places. Only in nine other countries around the world did the respondents rate their level of happiness higher. According to the United Nations, this is mainly due to a high life expectancy and the high gross domestic product per capita.
# 9 Canada
The eleven happiest countries in the world all belong to the OECD. Costa Rica is in between in twelfth place. Canada has slipped a bit in the United Nations happiness barometer. The country was in seventh place in the previous report. Now it was only enough for ninth place. Canada scores above all with excellent values for life expectancy and personal freedom.
# 8 New Zealand
New Zealand defended its eighth place in the United Nations' World Happiness Report. It remains to be seen whether the attack on two mosques in Christchurch, which left 50 dead, will change anything. But New Zealand can rely on a strong social foundation. Private safety net, freedom, willingness to donate: The state has top marks in all of these points.
# 7 Sweden
For Sweden it went up in the current UN happiness report. The Scandinavian country was able to improve by two places to seventh place.
# 6 Switzerland
The Swiss, however, assessed themselves a little less happy than in the previous year. Your home country slipped from fifth to sixth place.
# 5 Netherlands
Apparently the residents of the Netherlands had more reason to be happy. They swapped places with Switzerland and climbed from sixth to fifth. With one exception (generosity), it was not enough to make it into the top ten in any of the secondary categories. This proves how subjective and complex the individual feeling of happiness can be.
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