Well, you know that police in Norway haven’t killed anyone in nearly a decade. You also know that Norway is the first nation in the world to ban deforestation. Moreover, Norway’s prison system, which focuses on ‘restorative justice’, is considered to be one of the very best in the world. Statistics show that Norway has one of the lowest recidivism in the world, at roughly 20% within 3 years, compared to 52% for the United States.
Recently, the Scandinavian country displaced three time winner Denmark to claim top prize for the happiest country to live on earth. Clearly, the Norwegians are doing something right.
According to the United Nations 2017 World Happiness Report, behind Norway come Denmark, Iceland, and Switzerland in what the report calls a “tightly packed bunch”. Rounding out the top 10 are Finland, the Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and Sweden.
All of the top four countries rank highly on all the main factors found to support happiness: caring, freedom, generosity, honesty, health, income and good governance.
All of the other countries in the top 10 also have high values in all six of the key variables used to explain happiness differences among countries and through time – income, healthy life expectancy, having someone to count on in times of trouble, generosity, freedom and trust, with the latter measured by the absence of corruption in business and government.
The U.N. report cites Norway’s practice of producing its oil slowly as primary cause for its high spirits:
“It is sometimes said that Norway achieves and maintains its high happiness not because of its oil wealth, but in spite of it. By choosing to produce its oil slowly, and investing the proceeds for the future rather than spending them in the present, Norway has insulated itself from the boom and bust cycle of many other resource-rich economies.
“To do this successfully requires high levels of mutual trust, shared purpose, generosity and good governance, all factors that help to keep Norway and other top countries where they are in the happiness rankings.”
Happiness in the U.S. is declining and is expected to continue on a downward path, with Donald Trump’s policies forecast to deepen the country’s social crisis. The country has fallen to 19th place in happiness rankings of rich countries, compared with third place just over a decade ago.
India ranked at 122 and was the least happy country among the SAARC nations. It dropped four slots from last year. The world’s “unhappiest” countries are all in the Middle East and Africa: war-stricken Yemen and Syria feature in the bottom 10, with Tanzania, Burundi and Central African Republic making up the final three.
The U.N. World Happiness Report calculated its findings by surveying people in 155 countries to find out how highly they evaluated their lives on a scale from 0 to 10. The report took into account several factors, of which six were found to be the most important: Real GDP per capita, healthy life expectancy at birth, freedom to make life choices, generosity, and perceptions of corruption.
People in the happiest countries in the world trust their governments and businesses, see themselves as free to make life decisions, and say they have good social support, found the U.N. survey. For the curious, here is the complete list: