Breakdown of the Countries Topping This Year's World Happiness Report

Today, we're breaking down the annual World Happiness Report, to explain which countries are the happiest countries in the world and why.

When we look at global rankings, we're often talking about things like purchasing power, military resources, and trade partnerships. But some experts say happiness is actually a better indicator of development and public policy successes than other factors.

The World Happiness Report - now in its sixth year -  is produced by a UN initiative called the Sustainable Development Solutions Network. They've managed to break down a topic that's both fundamentally subjective and hard to quantify.

Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, and Finland, the Nordic countries, are in the top ten. And they've all ranked among the top 10 since the report was first put out. Switzerland - this year's #5 - has also always hovered near the top.

So what are the factors (people, resources, education, social services, income, unemployment, GDP) that rank the Nordic countries among the happiest countries in the world?

We spoke to an economist, John Helliwell, who has edited the reports since the beginning. He said the data were compiled from the World Gallup poll, wherein people were asked to value their lives as a whole, with the best possible life being a 10 and the worst possible being a 0.

Of course, a country’s happiness is subjective and hard to quantify.

And just because a country makes it onto the "Happiest Countries" list, doesn't mean they're free of problems or criticism. For example, the Nordic countries have been among those witnessing a rise of far-right political parties and nationalist anti-immigrant sentiment after the European migrant crisis began in 2015.

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