The first ever United Nations “World Happiness Report,” released Monday has ranked Canada as the fifth happiest nation in the world.
And even though the top ranked countries on the list are wealthy and the least happy countries are dirt poor, those gathered at a high-level UN summit in New York say a country’s wealth doesn’t equate to its happiness.
The meeting to launch the report was convened by Bhutan, the tiny Himalayan nation which made headlines 30 years ago for tracking its Gross National Happiness.
According to Time Magazine, Bhutan’s prime minister Lyonchhen Jigmi Y. Thinley, is encouraging other countries to do the same.
“The [gross domestic product]-lead development model that compels boundless growth on a planet with limited resources no longer makes economic sense. It is the cause of our irresponsible, immoral and self-destructive actions,” he told the conference.
“The purpose of development must be to create enabling conditions through public policy for the pursuit of the ultimate goal of happiness by all citizens.”
Economist Jeffery Sachs, who edited the World Happiness Report said that happiness could be achieved independent of economic well-being as measured by GNP.
“GNP (gross national product) by itself does not promote happiness,” Sachs told the conference, according to Time.
“The U.S. has had a three time increase of GNP per capita since 1960, but the happiness needle hasn’t budged. Other countries have pursued other policies and achieved much greater gains of happiness, even at much lower levels of per capita income.”
The report noted that social factors such as the strength of social support, the absence of corruption and the degree of personal freedom were more important than wealth.
It also listed a number of suggestions for governments to promote happiness among their citizens including helping people meet their basic needs, reinforcing social systems, implementing active labour policies, limiting the scale of greenhouse gas emissions, improving mental health services, promoting physical health, and helping the public resist hyper-commercialism.
Happy country rankings:
8. New Zealand
11. United States;