Settling abroad: which are the world’s happiest countries?

world happiness

Are there countries where expats are more likely to be happy? According to the UN 2015 World Happiness Report, which ranks countries around the globe depending on their citizens’ sense of well-being, there certainly are. What if happiness was a development indicator, just like GDP? Though population well-being positively influences a country’s growth, measuring it is tricky… Where are people most likely to be happy?

Top happiest countries

According to the 2015 World Happiness Report, Northern Europe is the happiest place on earth. Out of the 156 ranked countries, the ten happiest nations are the following:

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

The study also shows happiness seems to be spreading: over the past five years, the world’s population has become slightly happier. Nevertheless, well-being increase is unevenly distributed: while happiness tends to rise in Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa, it weakens in industrialized nations, even though they are top-ranking countries.

Measuring happiness: what criteria?

Can one really objectively measure the well-being of a country’s population knowing that criteria for happiness may vary between individuals and across cultures? Attempts to identify criteria which allow assessment of population quality of life and well-being are becoming more and more frequent. The UN has identified six criteria:

  • the GDP per capita,
  • healthy life expectancy,
  • generosity,
  • freedom from corruption,
  • having someone to count on,
  • freedom to make life choices.

The OECD also has studied the factors determining happiness; in particular by creating a Better Life Index allowing comparisons of well-being across the 34 OECD member countries, using eleven different topics. The topics are the following:

  • housing,
  • income,
  • jobs,
  • community,
  • education,
  • environment,
  • civic engagement,
  • health,
  • life satisfaction,
  • safety,
  • work-life balance.

Best countries to work in

Are the world’s happiest nations also the best countries to work in? In the 2015 Human Capital Index, the World Economic Forum examined working conditions in 158 countries using four different pillars: health and wellness, education, workforce and employment, enabling environment.

According to the study, the ten countries who treat their workers best are:

  1. Finland
  2. Norway
  3. Switzerland
  4. Canada
  5. Japan
  6. Sweden
  7. Denmark
  8. Netherlands
  9. New Zealand
  10. Belgium

8 of the supposedly happiest countries in the world appear in this ranking…

To find out more about well-being around the world:

Read the World Happiness Report.
Take a look at the OECD Better Life Index to compare well-being across countries.
View the ranking of the world’s best countries to work in on the map published by the World Economic Forum.

Date of publication Nov 14 2013

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