Israel slips a spot but still a high 14th in World Happiness survey
Before the virus

Israel slips a spot but still a high 14th in World Happiness survey

Finland (again) tops UN’s annual World Happiness Report; ; US, UK rise; Tel Aviv is world 8th happiest city; data prepared before coronavirus crisis

People celebrate Israel's 71st Independence Day in Netanya on May 8, 2019. (Flash90)
People celebrate Israel's 71st Independence Day in Netanya on May 8, 2019. (Flash90)

Israel continues to rank high in world happiness rates in the latest global report on international cheer, coming in at number 14 among 153 countries in an annual UN survey published Friday.

This marks a slip of one place compared to 2019’s report, when Israel was in the 13th spot.

The World Happiness Report, released amid the global coronavirus pandemic, was based on data compiled before the rise of the deadly pathogen.

In a newly added ranking of cities around the world, Tel Aviv made the top 10, coming in at number 8; Jerusalem was at 33.

An aerial view of Tel Aviv’s beachfront. (Courtesy Tel Aviv Yafo Municipality, Barak Brinker)

Finland was the happiest country in the world for the third straight year, followed by Denmark and Switzerland. Nordic countries continued to feature prominently, with Iceland, Norway and Sweden all in the top 7.

Britain edged past Israel in the latest survey, ranking 13th, when last year it was two rungs below the Jewish state at 15. The US, meanwhile, gained some lost ground, moving to number 18 — the same spot it occupied in 2018 before dropping to 19 last year. Canada fell out of the top ten, from 9th place last year to 11th now.

The World Happiness Report, produced by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, ranks countries by how happy their citizens see themselves to be. It’s based on factors including economic wealth, life expectancy, social support and freedom to make life choices.

Israel has been slipping slightly in the past two years, having held 11th place for several years prior to 2019.

Top 24 countries in the 2020 World Happiness Index (World Happiness Report)

The bottom three countries in this year’s report were Zimbabwe, South Sudan and, finally, Afghanistan.

Beginning in 2012, surveys conducted annually by the Gallup company have asked people about how their lives are going. The data is then compiled by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network into the World Happiness Report, which attempts to explain what it is that makes people happy.

The 2020 report is the organization’s eighth.

Jeffrey D. Sachs, a professor at Columbia University and director of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, told The New York Times that beyond people’s financial and medical well-being, a sense of faith in society and in the government appeared to be an important factor in nations’ happiness.

This, he said, could be of particular importance during the current global crisis. Referencing the current trends in his own country, he said: “It’s part of what’s deteriorated in the United States, this idea that we’re all in this together. That’s really being tested. We’re going to have to find that common sense of shared responsibility to pull through the crisis.”

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