Where is the happiest place on earth? If you answered Disneyland, you could be forgiven (slightly), so perhaps the question should be phrased, “Where is the happiest country on earth?”
The answer may surprise you; Denmark.
Denmark tops the list of happy nations, according to the latest World Values Survey via this NSF report. In prosperous nations, factors that correlate with happiness include political freedom and social tolerance. Not surprisingly, impoverished nations with repressive regimes rank at the bottom of the list — Zimbabwe comes in last of the 97 countries examined in the survey.
The United States ranks ahead of more than 80 countries, but below 15 others in happiness levels, according to the survey data.
The latest surveys, taken in the United States and in several developing countries, showed increased happiness from 1981 to 2007 in 45 of 52 countries for which substantial time series data was available. Survey analysis was funded by the National Science Foundation.
“Though by no means the happiest country in the world, from a global perspective the U.S. looks pretty good,” says Ronald Inglehart, a political scientist at the university, who directs the study. “The country is not only prosperous; it ranks relatively high in gender equality, tolerance of ethnic and social diversity and has high levels of political freedom.”
Happiness; how exactly did the researchers define it and ultimately how did they measure it?
Researchers measured happiness by simply asking people how happy they were, and how satisfied they were with their lives as a whole. Ninety-seven percent of respondents–an exceptionally high response rate–gave answers that strongly correlated with how satisfied they were with various aspects of life such as gender equality and tolerance of minorities.Interestingly, countries whose respondents reported high levels of happiness were much likelier to be democracies than were countries that rank lower in terms of their citizens’ happiness.
So maybe it’s time to pack a few bags and make the trek to Denmark, just to see what all the fuss is about!