March 20 is celebrated as the International Day of Happiness across the world. This year, the date also coincided with the United Nations’ release of its annual World Happiness Report for 2017, which saw Norway dethrone Denmark to become the world’s happiest country.
The top spots were claimed, once again, by the Nordic countries, with Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland and Finland rounding off the top five. The rankings were based on factors like “caring, freedom, generosity, honesty, health, income and good governance,” the report said.
“Happy countries are the ones that have a healthy balance of prosperity, as conventionally measured, and social capital, meaning a high degree of trust in a society, low inequality and confidence in government,” Jeffrey Sachs, the director of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, which releases the annual report, said in an interview, Reuters reported. Sachs is also a special adviser to the U.N. secretary-general.
The United States, however, was a “story of reduced happiness,” the report stated. While it ranked third among the OECD nations, it fell to the 13th place in 2016. The latest report saw the U.S. slip a further rank down, the main causes for which were given as declining social support and increased corruption.
“They are all aimed at increasing inequality, tax cuts at the top, throwing people off the healthcare rolls, cutting Meals on Wheels in order to raise military spending. I think everything that has been proposed goes in the wrong direction,” Sachs said.
See a list of the 20 happiest countries in the world below:
8. New Zealand
12. Costa Rica
14. United States
19. United Kingdom
See the lowest ranking countries below:
1. Central African Republic
9. South Sudan