UN ranks Israel 11th-happiest country worldwide
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UN ranks Israel 11th-happiest country worldwide

Jewish state above US in World Happiness Report, but below Canada and Australia, among others; Switzerland the happiest

Dressed-up Israelis take part in a parade during the festivities of the Jewish Purim festival on March 5, 2015, in the central Israeli city of Netanya. (photo credit: AFP PHOTO/Jack Guez)
Dressed-up Israelis take part in a parade during the festivities of the Jewish Purim festival on March 5, 2015, in the central Israeli city of Netanya. (photo credit: AFP PHOTO/Jack Guez)

Israel is the 11th-happiest country in the world, ranking behind Switzerland, Iceland, Denmark, Norway and Canada, and above the United States, which placed 15th, according to the UN’s 2015 World Happiness Report, released last week.

The results come from 2012-2015 Gallup polling data, which included between 2,000 and 3,000 respondents from each country. Respondents were asked to rate their satisfaction with their lives on a scale from 0 to 10.

The top 10 happiest countries were Switzerland (7.587), Iceland (7.561), Denmark (7.527), Norway (7.522), Canada (7.427), Finland (7.406), the Netherlands (7.378), Sweden (7.364), New Zealand (7.286) and Australia (7.284). Israel ranked in 11th place, with a rating of 7.278. The United States placed 15th, with 7.119.

Most of Israel’s neighbors ranked low on the index, including the Palestinian territories (108), Egypt (135), Jordan (85), and Lebanon (103). The five unhappiest countries in the 2015 report were Rwanda, Benin, war-torn Syria, Burundi and Togo.

The survey found that six main factors determined the level of happiness in the countries surveyed: level of gross domestic product (GDP) per capita, social support, healthy life expectancy, individual freedom, generosity and perceptions of corruption. The scores were compared to those of “Dystopia,” a hypothetical country representing the worst scores from the 2012 to 2014 index.

One of the goals ofthe World Happiness 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.

The report is produced by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, an organization launched by UN Secretary General Ban-Ki moon in 2012 that promotes sustainable development on local, national, and global scales.

Stuart Winer contributed to this report.

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