Once again, snow-prone nations dominate the top of the ranking, with (chilly, socialist) Denmark once again taking the crown as the world's happiest nation. Here's who made the top of the list:
- New Zealand
- Australia (OK, this one isn't very cold at all.)
The results are tabulated from Gallup World Poll data on gross domestic product per capita, social support, healthy-life expectancy, personal freedom, charitable giving, and perceived corruption.
Where's the U.S.?
What else might you notice about this list? The U.S. once again failed to make the top ten. In fact, while we've moved up the rankings to number 13 from 15th place last year, that rise masks some less than good news for America's overall joyousness, according to the report.
When you rank countries by how much they've improved, U.S. progress looks pretty grim, coming in 93rd out of 126 countries. Perhaps even more worrying might be our showing in a new aspect of this year's analysis -- happiness inequality.
Thanks to the ongoing and incredibly rancorous Presidential election, we've heard tons about income inequality lately, but apparently America has a problem with the gap between its happiest and most miserable citizens too. When the authors ranked countries on this well-being gap, the U.S. came out 85th. Bhutan, Comoros and the Netherlands were the most equal.
"Attention has been almost entirely focused on the nature and consequences of economic equality. Would it not be helpful to have a measure of distribution that has some capacity to bring the different facets of inequality together, and to assess their joint consequences?" ask the report authors.
Who's at the bottom of the list?
If the top of the list is pretty unsurprising, the bottom is equally expected. Being war-torn and poor makes your citizens miserable, the report confirms with this list of the five unhappiest nations:
The biggest mover down the list is recession-wracked Greece. That's sad, but not shocking. (If you're wondering, Nicaragua was the biggest gainer.) Does the report hold any surprises?
What's up with parents in rich countries?
This year a side report released along with the main findings focused on parenting. It came to some more noteworthy conclusions. In line with previous studies, the authors found that a graph of happiness over time appears U-shaped. Youth and retirement tend to be fun. Being a responsible parent and worker is hard.
While the explanation for this general trend is easy to imagine, harder to fathom was the fact that parents in wealthy countries actually seem more unhappy than those in less well off places. Shouldn't providing for kids in a developed country be less stressful than feeding and educating your family in a poor one?
Luca Stance, the economist behind the parenting research, says the matter needs further study but suggested that the higher opportunity cost of raising kids in richer nations might be the cause of the unexpected numbers. Or, to put it another way, you have to give up more visible, tangible opportunities (for professional advancement, fun, personal self-fulfillment) for your kids if you're in New York than if you're in Niger. Bloomberg Business cleverly dubs this "a kind of child-rearing fomo."
Did anything in these results surprise you?