Denmark has taken the top spot on the United Nation’s first ever World Happiness Report, followed by Finland, Norway and the Netherlands.
The rankings in the report were based on a number called the “life evaluation score,” a measurement which takes into account a variety of factors including people’s health, family and job security as well as social factors like political freedom and government corruption. It also looks at measurements from previous reports on happiness from the Gallup World Poll (GWP), the World Values Survey (WVS), the European Values Survey (EVS), and the European Social Survey (ESS).
In the introduction to the report, co-editors John Helliwell, Richard Layard and Jeffrey Sachs explain that the report aims in part to evaluate happiness based on a more comprehensive measurement system that can be used to inform policy-makers. As the Atlantic explains, previous reports on happiness have linked personal contentment to income, but that correlation has been challenged in recent years by economists who have argued that the happiness of a nation is determined by far more than its Gross National Product.
“While basic living standards are essential for happiness, after the baseline has been met happiness varies more with the quality of human relationship than with income,” the report read. “Policy goals should include high employment and high-quality work; a strong community with high levels of trust and respect, which government can influence through inclusive participatory policies; improved physical and mental health; support of family life; and a decent education for all.”