Norway drops to second as happiest country

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Norway drops to second on the list of the happiest country in the world

In 2017, Norway peaked the United Nations list of the happiest countries in the world. This time around Norway is however pushed down into the runners up position. The Finnish are now deemed the happiest people in the world, according to the annual UN report.


The World Happiness Report ranks 156 countries based on life expectancy, social support and corruption among other things. The Nordic countries have been ranked very high in the list every year since the report was first issued in 2012.

Following Finland and Norway, the remaining top ten countries constitute of Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, Sweden and Australia.

The United States of America dropped to 18th place, down from 14th place last year.

This year is the first time that the report includes immigrants, which were evaluated in 117 of the countries.


Key Factors of The World Happiness Report

  • GDP per capita is in terms of Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) adjusted to constant 2011 international dollars, taken from the World Development Indicators (WDI) released by the World Bank in September 2017. See Appendix 1 for more details. GDP data for 2017 are not yet available, so we extend the GDP time series from 2016 to 2017 using country-specific forecasts of real GDP growth from the OECD Economic Outlook No. 102 (Edition November 2017) and the World Bank’s Global Economic Prospects (Last Updated: 06/04/2017), after adjustment for population growth. The equation uses the natural log of GDP per capita, as this form fits the data significantly better than GDP per capita.
  • The time series of healthy life expectancy at birth are constructed based on data from the World Health Organization (WHO) and WDI. WHO publishes the data on healthy life expectancy for the year 2012. The time series of life expectancies, with no adjustment for health, are available in WDI. We adopt the following strategy to construct the time series of healthy life expectancy at birth: first we generate the ratios of healthy life expectancy to life expectancy in 2012 for countries with both data. We then apply the country-specific ratios to other years to generate the healthy life expectancy data. See Appendix 1 for more details.
  • Social support is the national average of the binary responses (either 0 or 1) to the Gallup World Poll (GWP) question “If you were in trouble, do you have relatives or friends you can count on to help you whenever you need them, or not?”
  • Freedom to make life choices is the national average of binary responses to the GWP question “Are you satisfied or dissatisfied with your freedom to choose what you do with your life?”
  • Generosity is the residual of regressing the national average of GWP responses to the question “Have you donated money to a charity in the past month?” on GDP per capita.
  • Perceptions of corruption are the average of binary answers to two GWP questions: “Is corruption widespread throughout the government or not?” and “Is corruption widespread within businesses or not?” Where data for government corruption are missing, the perception of business corruption is used as the overall corruption-perception measure.
  • Positive affect is defined as the average of previous-day affect measures for happiness, laughter, and enjoyment for GWP waves 3-7 (years 2008 to 2012, and some in 2013). It is defined as the average of laughter and enjoyment for other waves where the happiness question was not asked.
  • Negative affect is defined as the average of previous-day affect measures for worry, sadness, and anger for all waves.

Full version (including statistics)


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