Norway tops list of who's happy
Norway tops list of who's happy Norwegian comedian Harald Ela explains why Norwegians are the happiest people on earth during an interview with the Associated Press in Oslo, Norway on Monday March 20, 2017. (AP Photo/David Keyton/AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Norway tops list of who's happy
Lexile: 1260L

Assign to Google Classroom

If you want to go to your happy place, you need more than cash. A winter coat helps - and a sense of community.
A new report shows Norway is the happiest country on Earth, Americans are getting sadder, and it takes more than just money to be happy.
Norway vaulted to the top slot in the World Happiness Report despite the plummeting price of oil, a key part of its economy. Income in the United States has gone up over the past decade, but happiness is declining.
The United States was 14th in the latest ranking, down from No. 13 last year, and over the years Americans steadily have been rating themselves less happy.
"It's the human things that matter. If the riches make it harder to have frequent and trustworthy relationships between people, is it worth it?" asked John Helliwell, the lead author of the report and an economist at the University of British Columbia in Canada (ranked No. 7). "The material can stand in the way of the human."
Studying happiness may seem frivolous, but serious academics have long been calling for more testing about people's emotional well-being, especially in the United States. In 2013, the National Academy of Sciences issued a report recommending that federal statistics and surveys, which normally deal with income, spending, health and housing, include a few extra questions on happiness because it would lead to better policy that affects people's lives.
Norway moved from No. 4 to the top spot in the report's rankings, which combine economic, health and polling data compiled by economists that are averaged over three years from 2014 to 2016. Norway edged past previous champ Denmark, which fell to second. Iceland, Switzerland and Finland round out the top 5.
"Good for them. I don't think Denmark has a monopoly on happiness," said Meik Wiking, chief executive officer of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen, who wasn't part of the global scientific study that came out with the rankings.
"What works in the Nordic countries is a sense of community and understanding in the common good," Wiking said.
Still, you have to have some money to be happy, which is why most of the bottom countries are in desperate poverty. But at a certain point extra money doesn't buy extra happiness, Helliwell and others said.
Central African Republic fell to last on the happiness list, and is joined at the bottom by Burundi, Tanzania, Syria and Rwanda.
The report ranks 155 countries. The economists have been ranking countries since 2012, but the data used goes back farther so the economists can judge trends.
The rankings are based on gross domestic product per person, healthy life expectancy with four factors from global surveys. In those surveys, people give scores from 1 to 10 on how much social support they feel they have if something goes wrong, their freedom to make their own life choices, their sense of how corrupt their society is and how generous they are.
While most countries were either getting happier or at least treading water, America's happiness score dropped 5 percent over the past decade. Venezuela and the Central African Republic slipped the most over the past decade. Nicaragua and Latvia increased the most.
Study co-author and economist Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University said in a phone interview from Oslo that the sense of community, so strong in Norway, is deteriorating in the United States.
"We're becoming more and more mean spirited. And our government is becoming more and more corrupt. And inequality is rising," Sachs said, citing research and analysis he conducted on America's declining happiness for the report. "It's a long-term trend and conditions are getting worse."
University of Maryland's Carol Graham, who wasn't a study author but did review some chapters, said the report mimics what she sees in the American rural areas, where her research shows poor whites have a deeper lack of hope, which she connects to rises in addictions to painkillers and suicide among that group.
"There is deep misery in the heartland," Graham, author of the book "The Pursuit of Happiness," wrote in an email.
Happiness - and doing what you love - is more important than politicians think, said study author Helliwell. He rated his personal happiness a 9 on a 1-to-10 scale.

Source URL:

Filed Under:  
Assigned 71 times
Why does happiness rise and fall?
Write your answers in the comments section below

  • annakatep-cel
    3/29/2017 - 10:37 a.m.

    Happiness rises and falls just as peoples life are ever changing. When good things happen people are happier but when bad things happen people become less happy. As americans gain more money they are seen as less happy. In my opinion, this is happening because Americans suffer from gluttony, so they keep wanting more and more things causing them to be less happy and content with their lives.

  • hannah6-war
    3/31/2017 - 12:07 p.m.

    I thought that this was an interesting article. I wish we could be ranked number one with happy people. I think that it would be nice to be able to walk down the street and people being able to be nice to each other.

  • connor2-war
    3/31/2017 - 12:10 p.m.

    I find it cool to know that the world has a way to rank countries happiness. IT sucks that the United States are becoming less and less happy. I think that all places have there reasons for being so unhappy for example Syria has been effected by war so there is bound to be people who are sad and unhappy there. All in all i find it to be cool that other countries in the world can be so happy.

  • jarrett1-war
    3/31/2017 - 12:11 p.m.

    Guessed article I never would have thought that there is actually a measurement of who is the happiest country. And how they rank every country from first to last in happiness rank. Also I thought that the way they rank the happiness level would have been different than a survey of how happy are you for 1-10.

  • joey2-war
    3/31/2017 - 12:11 p.m.

    The happiness rises and falls in countries for different reasons. One reason is that happiness rises when people can look past money to make them happy. Happiness falls because of inequality or government corruption.

  • colton-war
    3/31/2017 - 12:17 p.m.

    It is fascinating to know what countries are happier than others. It is a shame that America is dropping in happiness rating though. Countries shouldn't be getting more and more mean spirited, they should be working together to be overall more happy.

  • jacquelyn-war
    3/31/2017 - 12:17 p.m.

    Happiness rises and falls based on a person's personal life or what kind of state that the country is in. Norway is the ranked the happiest country in the world because the people there have a "sense of community and understanding in the common good." Other countries, such as the United States have gone down on the happiness list because of things like money, amount of social support they feel they have, their freedom of choice, and their sense of how corrupt their society may seem to them, among other factors.

  • katelyn3-war
    3/31/2017 - 12:17 p.m.

    Happiness rises and falls due to what's happening in the person's life. On a larger scale happiness rises and falls because of what's happening in the country such as war, oppression, revolution, and/or economy problems. Although the price of oil is decreasing, which is Norway's biggest part of its economy, Norway has still has smaller problems than those of Rwanda or Syria. America's happiness is decreasing because it's "...becoming more and more mean spirited. And our government is becoming more and more corrupt. And inequality is rising."

  • shaylonna-war
    3/31/2017 - 12:25 p.m.

    Happiness, in my opinion, rises because of the loved ones, friends and family, in our lives. Happiness falls because of stress, anxiety, deaths, etc. that occurs. Everyone's different so they may have different reasons for the rise and fall of their happiness.

  • nathanm14-ste
    3/31/2017 - 01:33 p.m.

    The general happiness of a nation rises and falls because it goes hand and hand with the economy, income, spending, health and housing. These are all variables which generally rise and fall. And as well, what does Norway have to be sad about?

Take the Quiz Leave a comment