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All smiles: Norway tops World Happiness Report 2017

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By Chris Harris  with Reuters
All smiles: Norway tops World Happiness Report 2017

Norway wiped the smile off Denmark’s face on Monday by beating its Nordic neighbour to top spot in a global happiness survey.

The fjord-rich country came first in the UN-backed World Happiness Report 2017, up from fourth in last year’s rankings.

Seven of the top ten states were European, including five Nordic countries.

“Norway moves to the top of the ranking despite weaker oil prices,” the introduction to the report commented. “It is sometimes said that Norway achieves and maintains its high happiness not because of its oil wealth, but in spite of it.

“By choosing to produce its oil slowly, and investing the proceeds for the future rather than spending them in the present, Norway has insulated itself from the boom and bust cycle of many other resource-rich economies.

“To do this successfully requires high levels of mutual trust, shared purpose, generosity and good governance, all factors that help to keep Norway and other top countries where they are in the happiness rankings.”

Countries in sub-Saharan Africa, along with Syria and Yemen, are the least happy of the 155 countries ranked in the fifth annual report released at the United Nations.

“Happy countries are the ones that have a healthy balance of prosperity, as conventionally measured, and social capital, meaning a high degree of trust in a society, low inequality and confidence in government,” Jeffrey Sachs, the director of the SDSN and a special advisor to the United Nations Secretary-General, said in an interview.

Sachs said the United States is falling in the ranking due to inequality, distrust and corruption and the economic measures that the administration of President Donald Trump is trying to pursue, he added, will make things worse.

“They are all aimed at increasing inequality – tax cuts at the top, throwing people off the healthcare rolls, cutting Meals on Wheels in order to raise military spending. I think everything that has been proposed goes in the wrong direction,” he explained.

The rankings are based on six factors — per capita gross domestic product, healthy life expectancy, freedom, generosity, social support and absence of corruption in government or business.