Wanna be happy? Move to Norway
If you want to go to your happy place, you need more than cash. A winter coat helps — and a sense of community.
A new report shows Norway is the happiest country on Earth, Americans are getting sadder, and it takes more than just money to be happy.
Norway vaulted to the top slot in the World Happiness Report despite the plummeting price of oil, a key part of its economy. Income in the United States has gone up over the past decade, but happiness is declining.
The United States was 14th in the latest ranking, down from No. 13 last year, and over the years Americans steadily have been rating themselves less happy.
Studying happiness may seem frivolous, but serious academics have long been calling for more testing about people's emotional well-being, especially in the United States.
Norway moved from No. 4 to the top spot in the report's rankings, which combine economic, health and polling data compiled by economists that are averaged over three years from 2014 to 2016.
Norway edged past previous champ Denmark, which fell to second. Iceland, Switzerland and Finland round out the top 5.
"Good for them. I don't think Denmark has a monopoly on happiness," said Meik Wiking, chief executive officer of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen, who wasn't part of the global scientific study that came out with the rankings.
"What works in the Nordic countries is a sense of community and understanding in the common good," Wiking said.\
Still, you have to have some money to be happy, which is why most of the bottom countries are in desperate poverty.
Central African Republic fell to last on the happiness list, and is joined at the bottom by Burundi, Tanzania, Syria and Rwanda.
The report ranks 155 countries. The economists have been ranking countries since 2012, but the data used goes back farther so the economists can judge trends.
The rankings are based on gross domestic product per person, healthy life expectancy with four factors from global surveys. In those surveys, people give scores from 1 to 10 on how much social support they feel they have if something goes wrong, their freedom to make their own life choices, their sense of how corrupt their society is and how generous they are.
— Associated Press