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The World's Happiest Countries in 2015: Switzerland Tops the List

First Posted: Apr 24, 2015 07:49 AM EDT

What are the world's happiest countries? There now may be an answer for the year 2015. The World Happiness Report 2015 has come out, and shows exactly which countries top the list for having the happiest citizens.

"The aspiration of society is the flourishing of its members," said Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, in a news release. "This report gives evidence on how to achieve societal well-being. It's not by money alone, but also by fairness, honesty, trust, and good health. The evidence here will be useful to all countries as they pursue the new Sustainable Development Goals."

The report was produced by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN). It contains analysis from leading experts across several fields. The first of these reports was produced in 2012 and since then, researchers have continually surveyed country populations to gain a more accurate assessment of happiness.

So which countries top the list for happiness? Switzerland wins out, followed by Iceland, then Denmark, then Norway and then Canada.

"As the science of happiness advances, we are getting to the heart of what factors define quality of life for citizens," said John Helliwell of the University of British Columbia and the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research. "We are encouraged that more and more governments around the world are listening and responding with policies that put well-being first. Countries with strong social and institutional capital not only support greater well-being, but are more resilient to social and economic crises."

The happiness scale runs from 0 to 10 and in this case, scientists found that people in over 150 countries surveyed by Gallup over the period 2012 to 2015 had an average score of 5.1. Six key variables explain three-quarters of the variation in annual national average scores over time 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 findings reveal a bit more about happiness worldwide. They also demonstrate that a key national challenge is to ensure that policies are designed and delivered in ways that enrich the social fabric, and teach the power of empathy to current and future generations.

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