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Norway named world's happiest country; USA ranked 14th

20 March 2017, 01:43 | Melvin Schneider

CC BY 2.0 camdiluv

CC BY 2.0 camdiluv

It also helps that it has a low unemployment rate slightly below the US (4.7%) and low income inequality - the gap between the richest and poor citizens is one-third as large as that in the U.S.

Denmark can no longer claim the title of world's happiest country after being knocked off its perch by Norway.

The Nordic nations are the most content while countries in sub-Saharan Africa, along with Syria and Yemen, are the least happy of the countries ranked in the fifth annual report. With the release, the SDSN called on nations to build social trust and equality to improve the well-being of their citizens.

The 155 countries in the World Happiness Report, produced since 2012 by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, include employment, income inequality, life expectancy, GDP per capita, lack of corruption in government and business, and social support.

All of the top four countries rank highly on all the main factors found to support happiness: caring, freedom, generosity, honesty, health, income and good governance.

Mr Sachs said the U.S. is falling in the ranking due to inequality, distrust and corruption. The Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Sweden were also included in the top ten.

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Unemployment, or the quality of the work they have, is a major factor in people's happiness.

"Increasingly, happiness is considered to be the proper measure of social progress and the goal of public policy", say the authors, pointing out that in June 2016, the OECDexternal link (a group of relatively wealthy countries) committed itself to redefining growth to put people's well-being at the centre of governments' efforts. That boosted the per person annual income, as measured by economic output, to more than $100,000 - almost double that of the United States. "I think everything that has been proposed goes in the wrong direction", Sachs said.

Income per person has increased roughly three times since 1960, but measured happiness has not risen - indeed, it has dipped over the past decade from 7.5 out of 10, to 6.8 out of 10. Austria 14. United States 15.

South Sudan, Liberia, Guinea, Togo, Rwanda, Tanzania, Burundi and the Central African Republic were at the bottom. Americans, however, are happier than European counterparts Germany (16th), the United Kingdom (19th) and France (31st).

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