While you might get a mental picture of people dancing, singing and smiling in places described as “the happiest countries in the world,” the World Happiness Report 2016 Update from the Sustainable Development Solutions Network takes the definition of happiness a little more seriously. The report, first published in 2012, ranks 156 nations by their happiness levels based on six factors:
- Gross domestic product per capita, or how financially secure people are.
- Life expectancy, particularly focused on healthy years of life expectancy.
- Social support, as measured by having people to count on in times of trouble.
- Trust, as measured by perceived absence of corruption in businesses and government.
- Freedom to make life choices.
- Generosity, as measured by donations to people and organizations.
This year an additional factor was included: inequality of well-being. New research suggests that people are significantly happier living in societies where there is less inequality.
Some of the changes in the overall rankings can be attributed to financial and political distress that has led to decreased happiness in countries such as Spain, Greece, Italy and Ukraine.