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Norway Takes Top Spot In 2017 World Happiness Report

The World Happiness Report 2017, released today with significant input from LSE’s Professor Richard Layard, includes an analysis of happiness in the workplace for the first time.

The report, which ranks 156 countries by their happiness levels, was launched at a United Nations event celebrating World Happiness Day.

Norway ranks as the happiest country, jumping three spots from last year, displacing Denmark and then followed by Iceland, Finland, The Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Sweden.

Professor Layard, Director of the Wellbeing Programme at LSE’s Centre for Economic Performance (CEP), is one of three editors of the report, which is produced by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN).

This year the World Happiness Report gives special attention to the social foundations of happiness, including workplace happiness.

The research reveals that happiness differs considerably across employment status, job type and industry sectors.

“People in well-paid roles are happier, but money is only one predictive measure of happiness,” said Professor Jan-Emmanuel De Neve from the University of Oxford.

Professor Jan-Emmanuel De Neve: “Work-life balance, job variety and the level of autonomy are other significant drivers. There is a clear distinction of happiness between white and blue collar jobs, with managers or professionals evaluating the quality of their lives at a much higher level than those in manual labour jobs.”

The report also highlights the personal factors affecting happiness. As Professor Layard points out, “in rich countries the biggest single cause of misery is mental illness”.

Norway’s rise to the top spot coincides with recent declines in oil prices, the authors note.

“It shows that high happiness depends on much more than income,” says Professor John Helliwell from the University of British Colombia.

Professor John Helliwell: “By choosing to produce oil deliberately and investing the proceeds for the benefit of future generations, Norway has protected itself from the volatile ups and downs of many other oil-rich economies. This emphasis on the future over the present is made easier by high levels of mutual trust, shared purpose, generosity and good governance. All these are found in Norway, as well as in the other top countries.”

The fifth World Happiness Report since 2012 continues to gain global recognition as governments, organisations and other sectors place more focus on happiness indicators to inform their policy-making decisions.

Topics covered this year range from Social Foundations of World Happiness; Growth and Happiness in China; ‘Waiting for Happiness’ in Africa; The Key Determinants of Happiness and Misery; Happiness at Work; and Restoring American Happiness.

SDSN Director Jeffrey Sachs: “This report provides evidence that happiness is a result of creating strong social foundations. It’s time to build social trust and healthy lives, not guns or walls. Let’s hold our leaders to this fact.

For more information, go to www.worldhappiness.report

Source: LSE, The London School of Economics and Political Science

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