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Do you live in the happiest country in the world?

September 2013, 13
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A new UN report has been released which has revealed that for the second year in a row, Denmark is the happiest place in the world to live.
 
The content nation, which rarely appears on the international stage, has been named as the top country in the UN survey, The World's Happiness Report 2013.
 
Many countries in northern Europe feature prominently in the report whilst countries suffering internal turmoil, poverty or political unrest, such as Egypt have plummeted in
the rankings.
  
The winners...and losers
According to the report published by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, Denmark is once again the happiest place on the planet.
 
However, many of their Nordic neighbours fared very well too; Norway was second, Switzerland third, whilst The Netherlands came fourth and Sweden just scraping into the top five. These countries are largely unchanged from the first World Happiness Report published in 2012, other than The Netherlands displacing Finland who have now slipped to 7th on the list.
 
On a scale of 1-10, Denmark scored an impressive 7.7 to make it the highest ranked country out of the 156 included in the UN poll.
 
At the opposite end of the table, Togo was languishing at the bottom with an average score of just 2.9.
 
African nations performed poorly overall with Benin, the Central African Republic, Burundi and Rwanda all accompanying Togo at the foot. 

   
Happy people in Denmark at Circus
Changes in the happiness scores
 
Arguably the world's most influential superpower, the US, ranked a surprisingly low 17th place. This marked a slide of 6 places, down from 11th spot last year. Experts have attributed this fall to increases in both unemployment and poverty.
 
Other downward moves have not been so surprising; Egypt had the dubious honour of notching up the biggest decline since the 2012 survey, primarily as a result of the on-going civil and political unrest. Other countries moving in the wrong direction included Euro-zone strugglers Greece, Italy and Spain, all affected by the state of the continent's economy.
 
Latin American countries recorded the greatest improvement in happiness levels overall.
 
How it's scored
You may well be wondering exactly how the happiness of a nation is measured and what factors contribute to the score.
 
The exact computation is quite a complex affair, taking variations on a base figure. However, as a general guide, six factors were scored overall which included wealth and real GDP per capita, life expectancy, having another person to rely on, freedom from corruption, generosity and the perceived freedom to make their own decisions.
 
The authors of the report indicated that research had shown that the incidence of mental illness was also strongly linked to overall happiness levels. On a more personal level, having a stable family environment and a secure job without the threat of redundancy were deemed significant factors.
 
In nations where happiness levels were high, a number of positive effects were identified: higher earnings, greater productivity, longer lifespan as well as being all-round good citizens.
 
With the World Happiness Report garnering far interest than when first published, it seems that the survey is set to stay and supporters suggest it can help to provide valuable insights into how to improve not just sustainable development, but also the 'world's well-being'.
 

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