The Happiest Countries in the World

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4. Finland
> Life satisfaction score:
7.4 (tied-4th highest)
> Self-reported good health: 65.0% (12th highest)
> Pct. with quality support network: 95.0% (4th highest)
> Disposable income: $27,927 (12th highest)
> Life expectancy: 80.7 years (17th lowest)

A sense of community is important to an overall sense of well-being. Finland ranked fourth overall in the OECD survey both in life satisfaction and the proportion of respondents who said they had a good support network. Among countries reviewed, 88% of respondents said they had friends and family they could rely on compared to 95% of Finns. Strong education systems can also buoy citizen’s happiness. In 2012, an average student in a Finnish school had the third highest PISA score, an international standardized test. The country also ranked well in measures such as long-term unemployment and work-life balance.

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3. Switzerland
> Life satisfaction score:
7.5 (tied-the highest)
> Self-reported good health: 81.0% (6th highest)
> Pct. with quality support network: 96.0% (tied-the highest)
> Disposable income: $33,491 (4th highest)
> Life expectancy: 82.8 years (3rd highest)

The Swiss are one of the wealthiest populations in the OECD, with net household wealth averaging $108,823, nearly $18,000 greater than the 36-country average. The small Central European nation also had one of the healthiest job markets with 80% of the working-age population employed. This was the second highest figure of countries reviewed, which, on average, had 65% of the adult population employed. Switzerland also tied Iceland for having the highest proportion of residents stating they felt a strong sense of community. It also had one of the lowest homicide rates, at just 0.5 per 100,000 residents, which was one-eighth of the OECD figure.

2. Iceland
> Life satisfaction score:
7.5 (tied-the highest)
> Self-reported good health: 77.0% (9th highest)
> Pct. with quality support network: 96.0% (tied-the highest)
> Disposable income: $23,965 (18th highest)
> Life expectancy: 83.0 years (2nd highest)

Nearly every country with a high level of life satisfaction reported having a strong sense of community. Icelanders, which reported the highest rate of life satisfaction in the OECD, also were the most likely to have friends or family they could rely on. Low assault rates also make Iceland one of the safest countries, which generally improves trust and social cohesion in an area. It also tied with Japan, Denmark, and the UK for the lowest homicide rate of countries reviewed at just 0.3 per 100,000 residents. Iceland had the highest water quality among the 36 countries measured, with just 3% of the people surveyed reporting poor water quality compared to 19% across the OECD.

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1. Denmark
> Life satisfaction score:
7.5 (tied-the highest)
> Self-reported good health: 72.0% (15th highest)
> Pct. with quality support network: 95.0% (4th highest)
> Disposable income: $26,491 (15th highest)
> Life expectancy: 80.1 years (12th lowest)

While having a job often helps contribute to happiness by creating a stable financial environment for families and individuals, balancing work with leisure can also be critical to finding happiness. In Denmark, 73% of the workforce was employed, higher than the OECD average employment rate. Perhaps more important, though, the Danes still found time to devote more than 16 hours each day to leisure and personal care activities, which include sleeping, socializing, and watching television. This was the most time devoted to such activities among countries reviewed. As in other countries reporting high levels of happiness, as many as 95% of Danish respondents had a quality support network, the fourth highest proportion among countries measured by the OECD. Denmark residents are also well educated, having spent an average of 19.4 years in school, the third highest among countries reviewed.