Scandinavians among happiest in the world

Are you happy and what makes you happy? A hard question to answer, non the less measuring happiness has become fashionable among pollsters.  Of the most detailed are the Legatum Prosperity Index that recently published a poll putting the Scandinavian countries among the happiest in the world. According to the poll welfare benefits and opportunity is key.

The joyful countries are lead by the Norwegians that once again claim the title as the happiest people on earth. They are followed by their neighbours Denmark and Sweden.  Historically the trio has always been high on several polls mapping happiness.

The Legatum Prosperity Index is based on a study of 142 countries comprising 96 percent of global population. The poll derives from subjective answers given by the inhabitants in the respective countries which makes it a complicated affair to map prosperity. The index is therefore ranked on 89 indicators and sub categorized listing things like economy, safety and security and opportunity and entrepreneurship. In entrepreneurship Denmark comes in first with Sweden as runner up. The factors used in mapping entrepreneurship are  ability to commercialise innovation, technological and communication infrastructure and business start-up costs.

So what is the aim if a nation wants to lift the spirit of its inhabitants? What the Nordic top 3 countries have in common is first and foremost a solid economy with generous welfare benefits and redistribution of wealth. This leads to a feeling of security which is key to taking the lead on the index.

As an example Norway has a stunning per capita GDP of $57,000 a year. Norwegians have the second-highest level of satisfaction with their standards of living: 95% say they are satisfied with the freedom to choose the direction of their lives. 74% say other people can be trusted and that sort of trust is rare on the index.

Apart from the three happy neighbours Scandinavia is further represented on the list with Finland coming in at 7.

On the other side of the spectrum, the lowest ranking, or saddest country on the Prosperity Index, is the Central African Republic. There the per capita GDP is $790 per year, life expectancy is 48, and just 2% of people have internet access at home. Right behind the CAR at the bottom are Congo, Afghanistan, Zimbabwe and Haiti.

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