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
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If you want to go to your happy place, you need more than cash. A winter coat helps. And so does 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. This is despite the plummeting price of oil. A key part of its economy is oil. 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. That is down from No. 13 last year. 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. He is the lead author of the report. He also is 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. It recommended 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. They combine economic, health and polling data compiled by economists that are averaged over three years. Those are 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. Wiking 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. It 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. It 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. The ranking implies 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. It fell 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 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. He cited 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. She said 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.

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Why does happiness rise and fall?
Write your answers in the comments section below

  • kaylar3-har
    4/05/2017 - 02:23 p.m.

    Happiness rises and falls because of how a person feels. It is normal because at one point someone will be happy than sad or sad than happy. It happens to mostly teens.

  • keziam-pay
    4/05/2017 - 08:45 p.m.

    Happiness rises and falls because there are many factors to lead to happiness. Sometimes you might not lead to happiness at that moment and you will fall but other times, Happiness can bring you joy and peace. For example, In the article it talks about people become less happy because of the fact that state's nation's ranking was decreasing. Americans been rating themselves less happy because in the article it says "The United States was 14th n the latest ranking. That is down from No. 13 last year." Although this proves happiness declines, the article also talks about how some people do what they love to do and they rank themselves on a scale.

  • danishh-pay
    4/06/2017 - 11:15 p.m.

    The happiness factor probably depends on the surrounding environment of the people. I've heard that in countries like Norway and Finland, the people lead relatively stress free lives. In schools and in the workplace, those people focus on collaboration rather than competition. There scientific development is very high, crime rates are low, poverty is almost non-existent, healthcare is easily accessible, life expectancy is high- they've got a lot of stuff going for them. Add to that the amount of natural scenic beauty that surrounds them- the clean air, the lush forests, the diverse wildlife. This ideal environment is probably the reason why people are so happy here.

  • holdenj-orv
    4/09/2017 - 07:45 p.m.

    This thing makes me Happy. Its because I'm part Norwegian.

  • holdenj-orv
    4/10/2017 - 11:38 a.m.

    I am Part Norwegian. This is a good thing for my Nationality!

  • jacklynt-ste
    4/16/2017 - 06:40 p.m.

    I do not think that a country as a whole can be happy. I think that it is kind of stupid that there is a list of the happiest countries. I feel that any one person can be happy all on their own and it does not depend on their country.

  • hayleel-ste
    4/19/2017 - 12:03 p.m.

    I believe that happiness rises and then falls depending on the world setting and how things are around them environmentally and financially.

  • samanthas-1-ste
    4/20/2017 - 01:04 p.m.

    Happiness can rise and fall because of the events going around us in our life. For me, I always try to be happy but sometimes things affect me and cause me to be sad.

  • dahianad-ver
    4/21/2017 - 12:12 p.m.

    I think happiness rises and falls for many many reasons and not just because of money how it's directed in the article. I personally think that a whole country being averaged in the amount of happiness it has cannot be very accurate, although it works to show a little. Society does have a big issue in how people of different races, genders, sexual preferences, etc., get treated like they are less than others. Which is something that will forever affect everyone's lifestyle and how they are emotionally.

  • hguti-gon
    4/26/2017 - 01:57 p.m.


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