A number of different measures contribute to the average overall happiness of any given country, including GDP per capita, life expectancy, freedom to make life choices, and even overall generosity and social support. Here is the list of the 20 most prosperous countries in the world according to rankings in the 2014 Legatum Prosperity Index.
Denmark has finally reached number 1, after being number two for three years running! With an average life satisfaction score of 7.69 out of 10. This tiny country ranks first in entrepreneurship and opportunities – based on high levels of social fairness, connectivity and very low start-up costs. Denmark support parents – families receive 52 weeks of parental leave. Danish children receive free health care, as do Mother’s. Gender equality is key – with top leaders being both men and women. Bikes count for 50% of the travel round Denmark – reducing carbon emissions.
Its capital city Copenhagen was also named the “world’s most liveable city” again earlier this year by the international affairs magazine Monocle for its quality of life. The city is now regarded as one of Europe’s top foodie destinations, with the help of restaurants such as Noma which was named the “world’s best restaurant” last year.
According to research from the University of Warwick, genetics could be the key to explaining a nations level of happiness. Danish birth was also associated with specific versions of a gene that influences brain levels of the mood chemical serotonin. Compared with other people, Danes were less likely to have a short version of the gene linked to low levels of life satisfaction.
Norway dropped one space in the world-happiness-ranking in 2014. However, they do have a brilliant sense of humour. They have great income, social support, healthy life expectancy, freedom to make life choices and generosity. Norway is among the richest in the world and ranks first in social capital and second in safety and security. Making it a very safe place to live, as well as a fun and free place. Norway is also really safe, they have a very low crime rate and off course, its a beautiful country.
Switzerland is one of the most thriving countries in the world and one of the happiest. But why? Well, they have brilliant health care – they have the lowest Government spending on health care and some of the healthiest people. They are very happy, they have a very low depression rate and were voted 64th out of 122 in stress levels. They invest in top-notch education. They care about innovation and come first in the world for innovation and on-the-job training and they have created an environment where people can thrive, allowing people and companies to leverage that capital.
4. The Netherlands
The Netherlands is a very rich country, a rich democracy and lots of social cohesion. Also, Dutch children are happy, because there are endless amounts of children’s playgrounds, petting zoos and kid-zones. They are also taught to have a very open relationship with their families and to communicate regularly. Dutch families have a very liberal attitude to sex, drugs and alcohol. Many people know the Red Light Districts, suggestive art, and about sexual equality. Nearly a quarter of Dutch women give birth at home under the supervision of a midwife. After birth, the women are entitled to maternity care where they will help new mothers care for their baby but also advise them, give them regular health checks and even help them with household chores.
Sweden has high levels of social equality and political participation – it’s also a very tech-savvy country. Sweden is a good place to start a business. Start up costs are low. Although Sweden does not have higher economic wealth than the US, Swedens rate themselves as slightly happier than Americans do. Most Swedish families have two working parents, therefore a household has plenty of money. Yes, taxes are high but they are used for brilliant health care, free university and a wide range of social programmes to help people get skills and jobs. They also receive a minimum of five weeks of paid holiday a year!
Canada is the most prosperous nation in the Americas. Canada is very tolerant and welcoming. As a whole, people have become a bit happier and more generous in the past five years. Canadians have brilliant life expectancy, freedom of choice and generosity. Ninety-four per cent of Canadians believe they know someone they could rely on in time of need while 82 per cent say they have more positive experiences in an average day than negative ones. Canada also has strong social ties with their family, friends and co-workers, they take more time and effort to make sure people are an important part of their lives.
Finland has very low levels of crime and poverty, they have brilliant health care and the best education system in the world and a healthy work-life balance. They get 36 holidays days per year and if you leave your job for a brief time you can come back to a guaranteed position months later. University is free and if students want a student loan the interest rate is only 1%. Finland also has the least corrupt government in the world and they have plenty of beautiful places to relax!
Austria has beautiful scenery, lakes, good food, fun celebrations and welcoming residents. As a result, residents tend to be very content. They believe in the old saying “live and let live”. Austria has low a crime rate (less than 100 murders per year). There is very little poverty and excellent public health care and public schools are easily accessible to everyone.
Iceland may seem rather isolated but 8 out of 10 Icelanders report that they are very content living there. They have a very high level of trust and strong social bonds with each other – it is not uncommon to see babies sleeping in their strollers outside of coffee shops while the parents relax inside. Iceland is also a very open gay friendly place, people don’t even notice. They also have great health care, paid maternity leave, unpolluted air, Eco-friendly heating and clean water. And of course the scenery is spectacular.
Australians have a lot going for them – they have a booming economy, very low unemployment rates and the minimum wage is nearly $16 an hour. They also have a low crime rate, great health care and a very clean environment. Off course, the beaches and weather help too! They make sure they have a very good work-life balance. They are so friendly and easy to talk to. Public transport is so easy and cheap.
Israel is ranked low in terms of income, housing, education and security – so why are they so happy? War has quite a bit to do with it. The fact is that Israel has been in a perpetual state of war—or under the threat of war—since David Ben-Gurion declared independence in May 1948, the only Western country in the world in which this is the case. Because of this they love life more than any other country.
They also enjoy higher life expectancy than Germany or The Netherlands, regardless of the war. They over 82 different kinds of ethnic communities and at any day you can bump into several of them. They have no censorship (within reason) and most radio stations will use swear words, however those swear words seem to have little or no impact. Just don’t swear in Hebrew, that is disrespectful. Women have many rights in Israel, with them being one of the first countries to have a female Prime Minister.
12. Costa Rica
Costa Rica isn’t a particularly wealthy country but they are very happy! They are incredibly green, with residents being very aware of their carbon footprint. Costa Ricans also have a high life expectancy – 78.5 years on average. Costa Rica has no army, instead they spend their money on education and health care, making them very peaceful. Environmental protection is massive in Costa Rica, they are very green and have a tree-planting programme. Costa Ricans have a very healthy diet in local fruit. Even their money is happy, they have brightly coloured notes with pictures of the country’s beloved wildlife on them.
13. New Zealand
New Zealand is ranked 1st in Education and 2nd in Governance and Social Capital. New Zealand reflects a high-life expectancy. This why its people are so happy. New Zealanders are the friendliest people in the world, from the shopkeepers to the average person walking down the street. New Zealand are pretty strict with drinking, they ID everyone and they do no tolerate drunken behaviour.
14. United Arab Emirates
In the United Arab Emirates, many drivers are intentionally getting speeding tickets with the hope that the arresting officers will drive them to the police station in a Bentley or Aston Martin. Now really, when you’re happy to get pulled over, what does that say about your country? With the ever-developing plans, economy is booming by the day.
Panama has a strong sense of generosity as well as a low perception of corruption. They have a very positive attitude to life and are very laid back. Panamanians love their fiestas and will not miss an opportunity to have a party. Social contacts are very important and a lot of time is dedicated to small talk and personal conversations. Families are very strong in Panama and on Sunday’s everyone still gets together.
The country has a thriving economy, with cost of living so cheap – you could live in a 3 bedroom apartment for $800-$1500 a month. You can live car-free, most things are in walking distance and it’s very easy to use public transport. Costa-Ricans have a very healthy lifestyle, with a simple diet and a lot of exercise. They also have a fantastic landscape, booming economy, financial stability and positivity runs high.
Mexico on a whole has a strong baseline for the happiness and well-being of its citizens reflecting a perception that what they have makes life enjoyable. Mexicans have a better ability to cope with life’s negative experiences, pain, worry, sadness and instead remain positive, content and hopeful.
The USA have a high life-expectancy and high levels of well-being. America is one of the most resilient countries in the world and is very open to radical change. Americans can express themselves very openly. Americans are also less likely to view money as a way of leading them to happiness. 80% of Americans are very happy with their partner and family life. They also have the best road trips in the world, because traveling is so easy around America. They are very diverse, they have hundreds of different cultures and are very accepting of people and you their food … that would make anyone happy!
Irish people are among the happiest in the world, according to a new global report. Healthy life expectancies and generosity are elements that keep the residents of Ireland happy. In general, Irish people are more satisfied with their lives, with 84% of people saying they have a lot of positive experiences in an average day. Ireland is a very fair place, with powerful people keeping in check by the media, law and public opinions. Ireland also excel at sport, they get involved and are very patriotic.
Luxembourg proves that sometimes money can buy happiness. It has great access to education, with 100% of the population being literate. Luxembourg is a well-known tax haven. Luxembourg’s average unemployment rate from 1982 to 2014 was 3.3%, the lowest in the Europe. Luxembourg was ranked 3rd best country in the EU for business efficiency. Like other European countries, Luxembourg has a free and universal national health insurance system. Luxembourg celebrates National Day on 23 June as the sovereign’s official birthday. The night before (22 June) is festive, with torchlight parades, fireworks, music, and parties. National Day is more ceremonial, including military parades, cannonades, and a “Te Deum” sung in the national cathedral… AND they have Prince Felix!
Finishing the list is Venezuela, where in 2012 the country paid respect to some of the worlds most endangered species by setting up a 1,440 square miles shark sanctuary in the Caribbean Sea. They are very happy, energetic people and they love a dance and a party. Venezuelan people give a lot of importance to friendship, when they have a best friend, they stick by their side anytime because true friends are hard to come by. They are also very healthy, drinking natural juices during dinner instead of fizzy drinks.
Featured photo credit: snow globe via shutterstock.com
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Featured photo credit: snow globe via shutterstock.com