The Happiest Countries in the World

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10. Sweden
> Life satisfaction score: 7.3
> Employment rate: 73% (5th highest)
> Self-reported good health: 79% (9th highest)
> Employees working long hours: 1.28% (3rd lowest)
> Disposable income: $26,633 (11th highest)
> Educational attainment: 86% (9th highest)
> Life expectancy: 81.5 years (7th highest)

In the OECD’s latest Better Life Index report, Sweden scores 7.3, the 10th-best score. Sweden has a life expectancy of 81.5 years, which is the seventh highest in the OECD. The country has extremely low pollution levels as well. According to the Better Life Index data, 97% of Swedes are satisfied with the quality of their drinking water — the second most among developed countries. The country also has the lowest levels of air pollution in the OECD. In the country, leisure is a priority for the working population as just 1.28% of Swedish employees work in excess of 50 hours per week. By comparison, 10.86% of U.S. employees work that much each week.

9. Canada
> Life satisfaction score: 7.4
> Employment rate: 72% (7th highest)
> Self-reported good health: 88% (3rd highest)
> Employees working long hours: 3.91% (11th lowest)
> Disposable income: $27,138 (8th highest)
> Educational attainment: 88% (5th highest)
> Life expectancy: 80.8 years (13th highest)

Canada’s score of 7.4 has much to do with the success of its health care system, a socialized plan that provides coverage to all of its citizens. As many as 88% of Canadians report their health to be “good” or “very good,” which ranks third among all nations surveyed. Canada also ranks among the top 15 nations in life expectancy. Other factors that may be contributing to Canadians’ high life satisfaction level are education and employment levels. Some 88% of Canadians have at least a high school diploma — the fifth-highest rate among the nations the OECD reviewed. Also, 72% of working-age citizens are employed — the seventh-highest rate. By comparison, Italy — one of the poorer-performing countries in these categories — has a working-age employment rate of 57%, and only 54% of its population has at least a high school diploma.

8. Australia
> Life satisfaction score: 7.4
> Employment rate: 72% (9th highest)
> Self-reported good health: 85% (5th highest)
> Employees working long hours:13.99% (4th highest)
> Disposable income: $26,927 (9th highest)
> Educational attainment: 71% (tied-12th lowest)
> Life expectancy: 81.8 years (5th highest)

Of the countries with high life satisfaction, Australia’s citizens have comparatively little leisure time. They tend to work long hours, with nearly 14% of the population working 50 hours a week or more. Australians are healthier than most, with a life expectancy of 81.8 years — the fifth highest in the OECD. Additionally, 85% of Australians report their health to be either “good” or “very good.” The national economy has also fared well in recent years, with a post-financial crisis peak unemployment rate of only 5.7%. Presently, the Australian unemployment rate is 4.9%. Another sign of economic strength is the low government debt that stands only at 4.9% of GDP. Comparatively, the U.S. government debt represents 73.8% of GDP.

7. Finland
> Life satisfaction score: 7.4
> Employment rate: 68% (14th highest)
> Self-reported good health: 68% (15th lowest)
> Employees working long hours: 3.66% (8th lowest)
> Disposable income: $24,958 (14th highest)
> Educational attainment: 82% (tied-12th highest)
> Life expectancy: 80.2 years (16th lowest)

According to OECD figures, the Finns value their free time. They devote 14.9 hours per day to leisure on average, the ninth highest among developed nations. Americans, on the other hand, rank 20th with only 14.27 hours of leisure time each day. Finland also has the eighth-lowest percentage of employees working more than 50 hours per week, at only 3.66%. When they are not working, many Finns like to indulge by taking a sauna — so many, in fact, that a country with a population of 5.3 million has 2 million saunas, much more than the number of cars in the country.

6. Israel
> Life satisfaction score: 7.4
> Employment rate: 60% (11th lowest)
> Self-reported good health: 81% (7th highest)
> Employees working long hours: 18.92% (3rd highest)
> Disposable income: n/a
> Educational attainment: 82% (tied-12th highest)
> Life expectancy: 81.7 years (6th highest)

Israelis have a life expectancy of 81.7 years — sixth highest among OECD nations. The country also has a low obesity rate of 13.8%, while 81% of those surveyed report their health to be “good” or “very good.” By comparison, Americans’ life expectancy is 78.7 years, and they also have a higher obesity rate of 33.8% among adults. Despite the constant security concerns in the country, the homicide rate in Israel is in line with the OECD’s average of 2.1 murders per 100,000 people. In addition, 70% of Israelis surveyed feel safe walking home at night. Although Israelis work long hours, with 18.92% working at least 50 hours a week, life satisfaction remains high.