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The World Happiness Index 2016 Rates the Happiest Countries on Earth

How does your home rank?

| 2 min read

How does your home rank?

Since 2012, the World Happiness Index has put together reports based on global surveys to measure the state of happiness around the world.

The 2016 World Happiness Report was just released in advance of UN World Happiness Day, which is March 20th. Around the world, 157 countries were surveyed, and this year Denmark took the cake for being the #1 happiest place in the world.

Switzerland, Iceland, and Norway ranked just behind Denmark. Canada, the Netherlands, and Australia made it into the top 10, and the United States was ranked 13th.

The data comes from the Gallup World Poll, and rankings are based on answers to the main life evaluation questions asked in the poll. According to the World Happiness Index’s website, “This is called the Cantril ladder: it asks respondents to think of a ladder, with the best possible life for them being a 10, and the worst possible life being a 0. They are then asked to rate their own current lives on that 0 to 10 scale.”

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People were asked to rank their happiness levels, and their answers were then weighed on six different factors: life expectancy, levels of GDP, social support, freedom, generosity, and corruption.

These results are then compared to Dystopia, a made-up place that the team created where everyone is sad and miserable. This fictional realm combines the worst scores from previous years in all six categories, and the researchers rank the real countries around the world to determine where quality of life is closest and farthest from Dystopia.

A limitation to the data is that the researchers only surveyed 2,000 to 3,000 people per country, which is rather small compared to an entire population size.

However, the researchers say, "a sample size of 2,000 to 3,000 is large enough to give a fairly good estimate at the national level. This is confirmed by the 95 percent confidence intervals shown at the right-hand end of each country bar."

Based on the Happiness Index data, the researchers created a chart laying out all 157 countries from highest ranked to lowest. You can see the top 53 countries here:

World Happiness Index 2016World Happiness Index 2016

Unfortunately, Burundi came in last place at 157th. Afghanistan ranked in at 154th, followed by Togo and Syria.

Aside from happiness levels, what meaning do these rankings really mean?

The researchers believe that the report shows a measurable figure of how ready different countries around the world are to pursue the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, which include ending extreme poverty and hunger, reaching gender equality worldwide, increasing the quality of education and healthcare, and many other humanitarian goals that could radically transform the state of the world and society’s happiness levels.

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