Who Are the Happiest People in the World?

I know this is going to sound a little shallow, but I am sure the Australian default weather of hot, sunny with clear blue skies is a major contributory factor to me being a happier person.

Back in the UK, where the weather was mostly dull, grey and damp, misery was easy.

Can happiness and/or misery really be so strongly linked to the weather?

Seasonally Affective Disorder (SAD)

sadAccording to the NHS in the UK “Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that has a seasonal pattern.

SAD is sometimes known as “winter depression” because the symptoms are more apparent and tend to be more severe at this time of the year.

The symptoms often begin in the autumn as the days start getting shorter. They’re most severe during December, January and February.”

Source: http://www.nhs.uk/

Hmm, no such problems with autumn here in Australia.

According to beyondblue, an Australian non-profit organisation set up to help those with depression and anxiety…

SAD is very rare in Australia and more likely to be found in countries with shorter days and longer periods of darkness, such as in the cold climate areas of the Northern Hemisphere.”

Source: beyondblue

SAD affects something like 2 million people in the UK, that’s about 1 in 30. Here in Australia, SAD is said to affect around 1 in 300. So maybe my theory isn’t so shallow after all, perhaps happiness IS linked to the weather?

The Better Life Index

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) think it’s more complicated than that though, they say happiness is to do with 11 things; housing, income, jobs, community, education, environment, governance, health, life satisfaction, safety and work-life balance.

Happy FaceBack in June 2011 the OECD decided that Australia was the happiest country in the world. I was so ecstatic about that I created probably the most ridiculous video I’ve ever made and put it on my post called The OECD Best Country Better Life Index.

Better Life Index 2013

Last year the OECD again declared Australia to be the happiest country out of the 36 included in their report. Here’s their top 10 with 2011 positions in brackets…

  1. Australia (1)
  2. Sweden (3)
  3. Canada (2)
  4. Norway (5)
  5. Switzerland (8)
  6. United States (7)
  7. Denmark (6)
  8. Netherlands (10)
  9. Iceland (12)
  10. United Kingdom (13)

New Zealand, who finished fourth two years ago could only manage 11th this time around, so our Kiwi friends are decidedly less happy these days whereas those from the UK are not quite so glum having gone up three places.

Ireland’s happiness remains unchanged in 15th, although with today being St Patrick’s Day they won’t much care about that.

So there you have it then, Australia is the happiest country in the world.

Australian flagOr is it?

Not according to…

World Happiness Report 2013

Released in September of last year, this 156 page report was compiled by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN). They think happiness is directly related to such things as GDP per capita, social support, healthy life expectancy, freedom to make life choices, generosity and perceptions of corruption.

Here is their top 10:

  1. Denmark
  2. Norway
  3. Switzerland
  4. Netherlands
  5. Sweden
  6. Canada
  7. Finland
  8. Austria
  9. Iceland
  10. Australia

Outside of the top 10, New Zealand were in 13th, United States 17th, Ireland 18th and the United Kingdom in 22nd place. 156 countries took part in that one.

So, according to SDSN, Australians aren’t as happy as the OECD thinks we are, but in the scheme of things, we are still pretty happy and I’m happy with that.


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