Threatening to move to Canada became the trendy thing to do following last year’s election . But you might want to rethink your plan—and consider moving to Norway, instead.
The Scandinavian country jumped four spots on the United Nations 2017 World Happiness Report to become the newly minted happiest country on the planet. The report measures well-being by looking at a bunch of factors that contribute to happiness—like freedom, generosity, honesty, and good governance. Norway is replacing fellow Nordic nation Denmark as the happiest nation in the world. Following those two are countries like Iceland, Switzerland, Finland, the Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and Sweden. (OK—so Canada snuck in there after all.)
So what makes Norway so special this year? In addition to all the happiness stuff, the U.N. cites the country’s practice of producing its oil slowly as primary cause for its high spirits. “It is sometimes said that Norway achieves and maintains its high happiness not because of its oil wealth, but in spite of it,” the report reads. “By choosing to produce its oil slowly, and investing the proceeds for the future rather than spending them in the present, Norway has insulated itself from the boom-and-bust cycle of many other resource-rich economies. To do this successfully requires high levels of mutual trust, shared purpose, generosity, and good governance—all factors that help to keep Norway and other top countries where they are in the happiness rankings.”
Perhaps not surprisingly, happiness is declining in the United States, which is ranked 14th on the current chart. The U.N. report dedicates an entire chapter to the U.S.’ state of decreased happiness, citing “declining social support and increased corruption” as the main causes. “Almost all of the policy discourse in Washington, D.C., centers on naive attempts to raise the economic growth rate, as if a higher growth rate would somehow heal the deepening divisions and angst in American society,” the report reads. “This kind of growth-only agenda is doubly wrong-headed. Most of the pseudo-elixirs for growth—especially the Republican Party’s beloved nostrum of endless tax cuts and voodoo economics—will only exacerbate America’s social inequalities and feed the distrust that is already tearing society apart.”
The U.N. World Happiness Report calculates its findings by asking 1,000 people from more than 150 countries the following question, and scoring the results: “Imagine a ladder, with steps numbered from 0 at the bottom to 10 at the top. The top of the ladder represents the best possible life for you, and the bottom of the ladder represents the worst possible life for you. On which step of the ladder would you say you personally feel you stand at this time?” Also taken into account are a country’s economic strength (measured in GDP per capita), social support, life expectancy, freedom of choice, generosity, and perceived corruption.
And if you’re looking to check out Norway’s happiness for yourself, good news: Flights there from the U.S. are super cheap right now .
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