The World Happiness Report has been launched at the United Nations earlier on in 2012.
The happiest countries in the world are all in Northern Europe: Denmark, Norway, Finland, Netherlands. with an average life evaluation score of 7.6 on a 0-to-10 scale. The least happy countries are in Sub-Saharan Africa: Togo, Benin, Central African Republic, Sierra Leone, with with average life evaluation scores of 3.4.
Political freedom, strong social networks and an absence of corruption are together more important than income in explaining well-being differences between the top and bottom countries. At the individual level, good mental and physical health, someone to count on, job security and stable families are crucial.
Some findings from the World Happiness Report include:
– Mental health is the biggest single factor affecting happiness in any country. Yet only a quarter of mentally ill people get treatment for their condition in advanced countries and fewer in poorer countries.
– Social factors like the strength of social support, the absence of corruption and the degree of personal freedom are more important than wealth.
– Over time as living standards have risen, happiness has increased in some countries, but not in others (like for example, the United States). On average, the world has become a little happier in the last 30 years (by 0.14 times the standard deviation of happiness around the world).
– Unemployment causes as much unhappiness as bereavement or separation.
– Behaving well makes people happier.
– Stable family life and enduring marriages are important for the happiness of parents and children.
– In advanced countries, women are happier than men, while the position in poorer countries is mixed.
The World Happiness Report is available on the web on: http://issuu.com/earthinstitute/docs/world-happiness-report and it can be downloaded as PDF from: http://www.earth.columbia.edu/sitefiles/file/Sachs%20Writing/2012/World%20Happiness%20Report.pdf