“Happiness” is a fairly subjective term. Everybody has their own definition so there’s no way you can be “wrong.”
But what about measuring happiness in a country? For that, you need bureaucratic metrics. And no one is better at that than the United Nations.
The Sustainable Development Solutions Network for the United Nations published a survey of the world’s happiest countries and concluded that Norway is the happiest country in the world. Denmark finished second, followed by Iceland, Switzerland, and Finland.
What is it about the world’s cold places that make people happy?
Happiness isn’t just about money, although it’s part of it.
Real gross domestic product per capita is one of the key measurements, said the report.
Others include generosity, a healthy life expectancy, having someone to count on, perceived freedom to make life choices and freedom from corruption, the report’s authors argued.
They said it’s a better measure of human welfare than analyzing education, good government, health, income and poverty separately.
“The World Happiness Report continues to draw global attention around the need to create sound policy for what matters most to people — their well-being,” said Jeffrey Sachs, the report’s co-editor and director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, in a statement.
“As demonstrated by many countries, this report gives evidence that happiness is a result of creating strong social foundations. It’s time to build social trust and healthy lives, not guns or walls. Let’s hold our leaders to this fact.”
I guess it was just too tempting to get in a dig at President Trump and his wall. Everyone wants to get in on the act.
The report commends Norway for their farsightedness in developing their oil reserves:
“By choosing to produce oil deliberately and investing the proceeds for the benefit of future generations, Norway has protected itself from the volatile ups and downs of many other oil-rich economies.”
“This emphasis on the future over the present is made easier by high levels of mutual trust, shared purpose, generosity and good governance,” added Helliwell, who is also co-director of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research.
“All of these are found in Norway, as well as in the other top countries.”
Happiness at work
This year’s report also focused on happiness in the workplace.
“People tend to spend the majority of their lives working, so it is important to understand the role that employment and unemployment play in shaping happiness,” said Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, a professor at the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School.
“The research reveals that happiness differs considerably across employment status, job type, and industry sectors.”
De Neve, who co-authored the report’s chapter on happiness at work, added that people in well-paid roles are happier, but money is only one predictive measure of happiness.
“Work-life balance, job variety and the level of autonomy are other significant drivers,” said De Neve.
“There is a clear distinction in happiness between white and blue collar jobs with managers or professionals evaluating the quality of their lives at a much higher level than those in manual labor jobs even controlling for any possible confounding factors.”
All of these measurements of happiness are fine, except they’re missing the biggie. This is not surprising given its extraordinary political incorrectness.
It’s homogeneity. Currently (for how much longer is up for debate), the vast majority of Norwegian citizens are white, Christian, speak Norwegian, and are instilled with the “Protestant work ethic” (that’s what we used to call it before it became politically incorrect to do so).
When everybody looks basically the same, worships at basically the same churches, speaks the same language, and understands the value of hard work, it makes it a lot easier to be happy.
But we can’t say that because everybody knows the key to happiness is diversity and multiculturalism — even if it has to be rammed down citizens’ throats.
The U.S. ranked 14th happiest, which sounds about right. When 50% of the population still isn’t over the presidential election, you’re going to have a lot of unhappy people to count.