The Happiest Countries in the World

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The Norwegians and the Swiss have the highest life satisfaction in the world, according to the newest edition of the Better Life Index. According to the study, published annually by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, the United States, which has not been in the top 10 for life satisfaction in years, is tied for 14th.

The Better Life Index rates the 35 OECD member nations as well as Brazil, Russia and South Africa on a number of variables that contribute to overall well-being, including income, education, housing, health, and life satisfaction.

South Africa had the lowest life satisfaction rating, while Switzerland and Norway had the highest life satisfaction score. Denmark, which had long held the top spot in the last report, ranked third this year. 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the 10 countries with the highest life satisfaction score.

Click here to see the happiest countries.

Money does not buy happiness. Households in the United States, for example, have the highest average disposable income of the 38 nations reviewed, yet the nation ranked 14th. In general, however, wealthier nations are more likely to have the conditions that lead to higher well-being. Each of the 16 countries with the lowest life satisfaction have a below-OECD average net disposable income. Switzerland and Norway, which have the highest life satisfaction scores, rank third and fourth in disposable income.

A healthy job market appears to be another important factor contributing to a more satisfying life. Of the 10 least happy nations, six had among the 10 highest unemployment rates of nations reviewed. Norway, Switzerland, Denmark, and Iceland, the four happiest countries, each had among the lowest unemployment rates. In addition to insuring a stable source of income, employment has been shown to provide workers with a sense of purpose.

A strong support network has also been shown to be critical to mental well-being and overall happiness, and all 10 of the countries with the highest life satisfaction have average or above-average shares of adults who report strong social support networks. Eight of the happiest nations rank in the top 10 in this measure.

Good personal health, too, can contribute to a person’s overall happiness. On average, across the OECD, 69% self-report being in good health. In eight of the 10 happiest countries, at least 75% self-report good health. In the 10 happiest countries, life expectancy is above average in every case.

To determine the happiest countries in the world, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the countries that received the highest life satisfaction scores from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Better Life Index. In addition to the 35 member countries, the OECD included Brazil, Russia, and South Africa in its report. The OECD rated countries on eleven categories: housing, income, jobs, community, education, environment, civic engagement, health, safety, work-life balance, and life satisfaction. Additionally, we examined 2016 unemployment rates from the International Monetary Fund.

These are the happiest countries in the world.