Happiest countries in the world revealed

The World Happiness Report, a yearly study conducted by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, has revealed the world’s happiest countries in 2020.

While 2020 was a difficult year for every country, this research has revealed that some managed to stay a little less miserable than the rest.

The study assessed six areas, GDP per capita, social support, life expectancy, perceived freedom to make life decisions, trust and cooperation and generosity, as well as the responses of around 1000 individuals in each UN member state. It aims to assess the relationship between development and happiness, and to encourage the use of happiness as a measure of national success and priority.

The 10 happiest countries in 2020.

10. Luxembourg
In 2019, this small European nation of fewer than 700,000 people was ranked the world’s 14th happiest country. Since then, it has smiled its way into the top 10, probably helped by the nation’s mandatory five-week vacations. Along with its world class healthcare system, healthy work-life balance and high salaries, it’s no surprise that one of the happiest countries also has a great social security system that helps to care for its retired citizens.

9. Austria
If you’ve ever been lucky enough to travel to Austria, then their place in the top 10 will not come as a surprise. The landscapes, the cities, the art – not to mention their high life expectancies and GDP per capita. If you’re dreaming of travelling to Austria, be warned that you might not want to come home.

8. New Zealand
While unsurprising, New Zealand making the top 10 is salt in the wound for many Australians, considering that we didn’t make the cut. What makes it all worse is that they absolutely deserve this ranking. Kiwis have to be among the friendliest and most welcoming people on the planet. Maybe it’s because they enjoy such good social services and workplace satisfaction, while living in some of the world’s most stunning natural landscapes.

7. Sweden
Social equality, a strong and inclusive education system, 16 months of divisible paid family leave and free childcare – no wonder this is the best country for women and the seventh happiest in the world. It turns out that having a healthy work-life balance and social support really does make for happier people.

6. Netherlands
Between 2005 and 2019, the happiness levels in the Netherlands have changed a grand total of 0.03 per cent, making it one of the world’s most consistently cheerful countries. A separate study found Dutch children to be the happiest in the world.

5. Norway
Economic stability and trust of the government and its expansive welfare systems seem to be the secret to happiness. In 2017, Norway was ranked the world’s happiest country, and its ranking has been slowly slipping since then. However, as the world learns from their models of social and economic prosperity, it’s no surprise that the competition is getting greater. 

4. Iceland
Tough climates seem to grow strong social bonds, and according to the study most Icelandic respondents felt that they could rely upon their fellow citizens when the going gets tough. Socially speaking, Iceland is a model the rest of the world could learn from.

3. Switzerland
Swiss citizens vote on everything. Consequently, they are thriving in a social and political climate that values the voice of every person, allowing them to have a say in both major and minor decisions that could affect the future of their country, or whether they want a stop sign on their street corner.

2. Denmark
Denmark is committed to its economic and environmental future, is home to the world’s most bike friendly city and a huge proportion of its energy comes from renewable resources such as wind farms. It’s ranked highly in all areas examined by the UN, including social support, generosity and life expectancy.

1. Finland
A round of applause for the happiest country in the world. Finland has defended its title for three years running, with its exceptional education system that focuses on experiential learning and equal opportunity.

Are you surprised that Australia didn’t make the top 10? How many of the happiest countries did you guess?

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Written by Liv Gardiner

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