NEW YORK: Chances are, if you live in the United States, you feel worse today than you did 10 years ago. Don’t worry, it’s not you. This is a national problem: America’s rank on the happiness scale is falling.
When it comes to happiness, the United States ranked 19th among the 34 countries in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development in 2016, down from third among 24 countries on a similar measure in 2007, according to the World Happiness Report, produced by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network and funded by the Ernesto Illy Foundation.
Money, at least in the United States, doesn’t buy happiness, the report found. Even as the country pulled off an economic turnaround, with increases in income and unemployment falling to historic lows, Americans are becoming less happy.
“The predominant political discourse in the United States is aimed at raising economic growth, with the goal of restoring the American Dream and the happiness that is supposed to accompany it,” wrote Jeffrey D. Sachs, one of the editors of the report. “But the data show conclusively that this is the wrong approach.”
The report is based on an annual survey of 1,000 people in more than 150 countries that simply asks them to rank, on a scale of zero to 10, whether they are living their best life.
Researchers then use six measures to try to understand the results: gross domestic product per capita, life expectancy, support from relatives or friends, charitable giving, freedom to make life choices, and perceived levels of government and corporate corruption.
Rankings are created using the average of three years of surveys. Nordic countries, of course, were the happiest. In the list covering 2014-2016, Norway moved into the top spot as the happiest country in the world, followed by Denmark and Iceland. The least happy nations: Syria, Tanzania, Burundi and the Central African Republic. The United States ranked 14th on the most recent rankings average.
Improving happiness in the United States would be much easier to do through social change, the report found. – Bloomberg