The happiest countries in the world and what makes them so happy

Switzerland is the world’s happiest country, according to the 2015 World Happiness Report.

The next four spots are taken by Iceland, Denmark, Norway and Canada.

Australia came in at number 10.

How do you rank happiness?

The World Happiness Report is made up of 158 countries, ranks countries in terms of a series of factors including healthy life expectancy, freedom to make life choices, social support, perceptions of corruption and GDP per capita.

Assessing the population through happiness, not just wealth, is a useful method and promoted by the United Nations.

The top 10 list of countries are:

1. Switzerland
2. Icelandworld foreign hand
3. Denmark
4. Norway
5. Canada
6. Finland
7. Netherlands
8. Sweden
9. New Zealand
10. Australia

United States came in 15th spot, while the UK is at 21.

Unsurprisingly, four of the five least happy countries in the world are in sub-Saharan Africa: Rwanda, Benin, Burundi and Togo.

The three countries that have seen the biggest gains in happiness are Nicaragua, Zimbabwe and Ecuador.

The biggest drop in happiness is in Greece, where the economy has collapsed.

What makes people happy?

Professor Richard Layard, Director of the Well-Being Programme at LSE’s Centre for Economic Performance, and one of the study’s editors, said:

“A positive outlook during the early stages of life is inherently desirable, but it also lays the foundation for greater happiness during adulthood.

As we consider the value of happiness in today’s report, we must invest early on in the lives of our children so that they grow to become independent, productive and happy adults, contributing both socially and economically.”

The study also found that long-established social norms were important to national happiness.

People were happier when they could rely on family, friends and social institutions.

Professor John F. Helliwell, of the University of British Columbia and the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, and another of the report’s editors, said:

“As the science of happiness advances, we are getting to the heart of what factors define quality of life for citizens.

We are encouraged that more and more governments around the world are listening and responding with policies that put well-being first.

Countries with strong social and institutional capital not only support greater well-being, but are more resilient to social and economic crises.”

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Michael is a director of Metropole Property Strategists who create wealth for their clients through independent, unbiased property advice and advocacy. He's been voted Australia's leading property investment adviser and his opinions are regularly featured in the media. Visit

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