An annual survey ranked Israel the 11th-happiest country in the world, ahead of the United States, and far ahead of its neighbors in the region.
The World Happiness Report, published on Sunday, was based on data collected for 156 countries between 2010 and 2012. Denmark, Norway and Switzerland took the top three spots.
The report ranked the happiness of the world’s nations based on a “life evaluation score,” a number between 0 and 10 that measures several factors including health, family and job security, and social factors like political freedom, social networks and lack of government corruption.
The index was a collaborative effort between the Vancouver School of Economics, the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, the London School of Economics, and Columbia University.
Israel jumped three spots in the rankings from last year, coming in just behind Australia (10th). The United States dropped six spots, coming in at 17th, and the United Kingdom placed 22nd.
Israelis are much happier when compared to their neighbors in the Middle East. Jordan ranked 74th in the survey, Lebanon 97th, and Egypt 130th.
War-ravaged Syria ranked 148th on the list, and Togo’s citizens were ranked least happy.
“There is now a rising worldwide demand that policy be more closely aligned with what really matters to people as they themselves characterize their lives,” said the report.
One of the goals of the report was to challenge the assumption that happiness is directly correlated to wealth. While the countries that are happiest by and large do tend to be the wealthiest ones, it is social factors that play a larger role in the happiness of those countries, including the absence of government corruption and the degree of personal freedom.