In their third-ever World Happiness Report, an international team of economists, neuroscientists, and statisticians have determined that the Swiss are the happiest of us all. Of course they are. With one of the world's most thriving economies, universal healthcare coverage, top-notch education, constructive work environments, and overall reputation of neutrality, why wouldn't they be? (Oh, and also: chocolate.)
Switzerland was followed by Iceland, Denmark, Norway, Canada, Finland, the Netherlands, and Sweden.
Where's the U.S., you ask? 15th, behind Mexico and Austria. Not bad, considering we went up two spots from last year's report.
The rankings are based on the four main factors upon which happiness relies, according to decades of psychological research:
- Sustained positive emotion
- Recovery from negative emotion
- Pro-social behavior and generosity
- Mindwandering, mindfulness and "affective stickiness" or emotion-captured attention
So, here are the happiest 20 countries from the study:
- New Zealand
- Costa Rica
- United States
- United Arab Emirates
For the first time ever, the report breaks down the data by gender, age, and region, and it found surprisingly big differences between these demographics.
“A positive outlook during the early stages of life is inherently desirable, but it also lays the foundation for greater happiness during adulthood,” said Professor Richard Layard, co-author of the study, in a press release. “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.”
With that in mind, here are the 20 saddest countries in the world:
- Burkina Faso
- Ivory Coast
- Central African Republic
- Congo (Brazzaville)
If you want to read the full report, you can find it here.
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