Although the top ten countries remain the same as last year, there has been some shuffling of places in the report released Monday. Norway moved up from fourth place to overtake Denmark at the top of the ranking. It was followed by Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland and Finland. Canada dropped from sixth to seventh place, beneath the Netherlands.
This is the fifth annual World Happiness Report. It was edited by Helliwell of CIFAR (Canadian Institute for Advanced Research) and the University of British Columbia; Richard Layard, Director of the Well-Being Programme at the London School of Economics; and Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute and the Sustainable Development Solutions Network.
Canada was also highlighted for its success in multiculturalism and integration. It is sometimes suggested that the degree of ethnic diversity is the single most powerful explanation of high or low social trust, however Canada bucks this trend. While U.S. communities with higher ethnic diversity had lower measures of social trust this finding did not hold true in Canada. Canadian programs that promote multiculturalism and inter-ethnic understanding helped build social trust and decrease economic and social segregation, the authors note.
“Canada has demonstrated a considerable success with multiculturalism; the United States has not tried very hard,” writes Sachs. The next report for 2018 will focus on the issue of migration.
The World Happiness Report looks at trends in the data recording how highly people evaluate their lives on a scale running from 0 to 10. The rankings, which are based on surveys in 155 countries covering the three years 2014-2016, reveal an average score of 5.3 (out of 10). Six key variables explain three-quarters of the variation in annual national average scores over time and among countries: real GDP per capita, healthy life expectancy, having someone to count on, perceived freedom to make life choices, freedom from corruption, and generosity.
The top ten countries rank highly on all six of these factors:
1. Norway (7.537)
2. Denmark (7.522)
3. Iceland (7.504)
4. Switzerland (7.494)
5. Finland (7.469)
6. Netherlands (7.377)
7. Canada (7.316)
8. New Zealand (7.314)
9. Australia (7.284)
10. Sweden (7.284)