World Happiness Report: UK doesn’t even reach top 20

The United Nations’ World Happiness Report 2016, released on Wednesday (16 March), has placed Denmark in the top spot, regaining it from Switzerland in 2015. Switzerland still came second, followed by Iceland, Norway and Finland. None of the Scandinavian nations were placed outside the top 10, with Sweden in 10th.

10 Happiest Countries in the World

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

The UK just made it into the top 25, taking 23rd place. It was beaten by Luxembourg (20), Mexico (21) and Singapore (22). Ireland came 19th, with Germany 16th. Israel just missed out on the top 10, coming 11th – but still beating the United States in 13th.

The report which started in 2012, is produced by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and edited by Professor John F. Helliwell of the University of British Columbia and the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research; Professor Richard Layard, director of the Well-Being Programme at LSE’s Centre for Economic Performance; and Professor Sachs, director of the Earth Institute and SDSN.

The US rose two places in this latest report, even though their score dropped, while the UK fell two places from 21st to 23rd. The top 10 countries were the same as the previous report, though their positions have changed.

“The rankings show both consistency and change,” said Helliwell. “The consistency at the top reflects mainly that life evaluations are based on life circumstances that usually evolve slowly, and that are all at high levels in the top countries.”

The report studies trends in data recording how highly people evaluate their lives on a scale from 0 to 10. The average from the 157 countries was 5.1.

The 10 Least Happy Countries in the World

  1. Burundi
  2. Syria
  3. Togo
  4. Afghanistan
  5. Benin
  6. Rwanda
  7. Guinea
  8. Liberia
  9. Tanzania
  10. Madagascar

“Measuring self-reported happiness and achieving well-being should be on every nation’s agenda as they begin to pursue the Sustainable Development Goals,” said Sachs, “Indeed the Goals themselves embody the very idea that human well-being should be nurtured through a holistic approach that combines economic, social and environmental objectives. Rather than taking a narrow approach focused solely on economic growth, we should promote societies that are prosperous, just, and environmentally sustainable.”

At the bottom end of the table, Burundi, which has been rocked by political violence since April 2015, comes in 157th. In 156th is Syria, with Togo (155) and Afghanistan (154) just above.