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Denmark once again takes crown as world's happiest country

By Ed Adamczyk Follow @adamczyk_ed Contact the Author   |   March 17, 2016 at 12:44 PM

ROME, March 17 (UPI) -- Denmark regained the top spot as the world's happiest country in this year's World Happiness Report, beating out Switzerland, the previous year's winner.

Independent researchers used a combination of empirical data and subjective opinion about incomes, social support, healthy life expectancy, freedom of choice, generosity of governments and individuals, and perception of corruption to determine the ranking of happiness. The researchers from the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, a group of academics and public health authorities convened by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, also considered how each country compares to Dystopia, a fictional and unhappy land which would be found at the bottom of the list if it existed.

Indices of 157 countries were compared and ranked in the report, released days ahead of the United Nations' World Happiness Day on March 20.

Denmark had the highest index in the report. The rest of the top 10 are, in order, Switzerland, Iceland, Norway, Finland, Canada, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Australia and Sweden.

The United States came in at 13th, ahead of Costa Rica but behind Israel and Austria. Britain was 23rd, France was 32nd, Russia was 56th, China was 83rd and Ukraine was 123rd.

Togo, Syria and Burundi finished at the bottom of the list. Burundi's happiness index of 2.905 compares to list-leader Denmark's 7.526, suggesting a Dane's life is more than twice as happy as that of the average Burundian.

"This simple cross-country evidence suggests that both economic competitiveness and [sustainable development goals] achievement, but not economic freedom, explain aspects of well-being," the report concludes.

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