Have you thought about changing your life and moving to another country? Does it cross your mind that you might be happier living somewhere else? Where would you pick? It can get confusing pretty quickly trying to work out what will make you happy.
Happiness might not be the easiest thing to actually quantify, but that is what the World Happiness Report, released by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network, attempts to do.
It is a global snapshot of happiness and might be a good guide to get you thinking about where you might emigrate to, which may be entirely different from where you might want to take a vacation.
In this articles, we will take a look at the top 10 countries overall, and it is the Scandinavian countries which continue to lead the way. Rankings were made by looking at such criteria as- life expectancy, GDP per capita, inflation rate, population, climate, growth rate, corruption, unemployment rate, safety index, cost of living.
The 2018 report ranks a total of 156 countries by their happiness levels, and with its focus on migration, this year also ranks 117 countries by the happiness levels of its immigrants.
In its introduction, the report says: ‘a ranking of countries according to the happiness of their immigrant populations is almost exactly the same as for the rest of the population” calling that “perhaps the most striking finding of the whole report”.
The top 10 in each case is almost identical. Furthermore, “a higher value for migrant acceptance is linked to greater happiness for both immigrants and the native-born, by almost equal amounts”.
So, let’s take a look at the top 10 now.
Finland has jumped up the ranks from fifth place last year, to take the top spot now. Finland’s capital Helsinki has a very high standard of living, and overall the country is very welcoming and friendly.
The level of education and healthcare is also high, as is safety, and since everyone speaks English finding a job as a foreigner is not that difficult. With a high ratio of immigrants now living in Finland, the World Happiness Report mentioned particularly the consistency in happiness between them and local-born residents.
Finland also rates very well for environment protection, looking after its forest and lakes with very strong environmental controls. It was number one on last year’s Environmental Study Index, conducted by Yale and Columbia universities, and it’s still in the top 10 on the 2018 report ).
You will get five very cold months in the year, but also endless daylight in summer when the sun never sets below the horizon.
Norway was in the top position last year, and this slight reshuffling isn’t likely to take the smiles too far off the Norwegians’ faces. Their healthcare, social equality and prosperity rank very high. Norwegians also enjoy a very good work-life balance.
Norway is well known for the spectacular Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights, as well as its spectacular fjords, so it isn’t so surprising it was also voted Europe’s most beautiful country recently.
The Kingdom Denmark has been sitting at or near the top of the Happiness Report consistently. The typical Scandinavian attributes of the high standard of living and excellent public services and welfare keep its residents happy.
It also has a very low level of wealth inequality, is prosperous and has a low unemployment rate. The Danish is a very environmentally conscious society, with its number of bicycles far outnumber its cars, as well as being very welcoming to immigrants.
Comprised of the Jutland Peninsula and several islands in the Baltic Sea referred to as the Danish Archipelago, the ocean is also always nearby, with nowhere being more than 30 miles from the coast.
Iceland could easily be the most equal, free, peaceful and fair country in the world. Despite its tiny population, it is also welcoming to immigrants and experiencing an increase in immigration – immigrants are expected to make up 20% of the population by 2020. Icelandic people enjoy a high standard of living and rank very highly in terms of quality of life and democracy.s
It has become a very popular tourist destination recently, as people head to the island to explore its otherworldly landscapes. The majority of its energy use is renewable geothermal energy, which isn’t entirely unexpected given it has 30 active volcanic systems, on its tiny 40,000 sq miles.
Switzerland is known for its favorable tax regime, booming economy and phenomenal infrastructure, it is a good place to work and do business. It also boasts fantastic education, health care, and a robust democratic system, with a very transparent government and system of very regular referendums.
The Swiss not only enjoy a happy life but a long one as well. Life expectancy is an average of 83 years according to the most recent United Nations Human Development Report, which is one of the highest in the world. With this much prosperity and openness, they have a very welcoming immigration system – almost one-quarter of their population is a foreigner. However, almost half of the immigrants are from just four European countries: France, Germany, Italy, and Portugal.
The Netherlands is well known for its flat landscape populated with the iconic windmills and fields of tulips. This small bicycle loving nation is also quite happy, coming in at number 6. It has a relatively laid back culture which is also known for its very liberal laws on marijuana.
As you might expect it also has a very high-quality education system, public services, and welfare. The crime rate is low and it is a very peaceful country.
Canada is far ahead of its southern neighbor on the happiness scale (the US is 18th), offering a great quality of life. A life which is on average is beyond 80 years. Like most countries making it into the top 10, it has a top public healthcare system and a great education, including excellent universities. Canada is also strong in quantum computing, medical discoveries, space science, and technology.
For many around the world, the landscapes of New Zealand actually conjure up a world of fantasy, magic and epic battles. It has been famously used as the location for many film and TV projects, most notably the Lord of the Rings, Avatar, and Xena: Warrior Princess.
It certainly has an amazingly diverse landscape for its small 103,483 sq. miles: perfect for all kinds of adventuring, from biking and hiking to surfing, skiing, bungee jumping or canyoning.
New Zealand also boasts a very popular female Prime Minister, who just gave birth whilst in office. In 2006 it was the first country where all the top positions were held by women – Queen, Prime Minister, Chief Justice, Speaker of the house.
The last of the Scandinavian countries make it also into the top 10. Beautiful landscapes, top education, and very welcoming to foreigners – about 15% are immigrants – all make it a very happy country. It is also well known as an exporter of culture – from cool minimal Nordic design, to film, music, and literature.
Thinking of Australia one pictures beautiful golden beaches, year-round sunshine, and a lot of open space to explore. The majority of the population live in the major cities and enjoy a high quality of life. Education and healthcare quality is generally high, and it has several world-class universities which welcome many foreign students every year.