It would appear that in spite of our griping about high taxes, our long winters, the antics of government leaders and our abundance of mosquitoes, Canadians still rank among the happiest people in the world.
According to the second World Happiness Report, which was published this month by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, Canada ranks sixth in the world out of 156 countries, behind Denmark (1), Norway (2), Switzerland (3), the Netherlands (4) and Sweden.
The U.S. ranks 17th, ahead of the U.K., which came in at 22nd, and France at 25th, though it trailed Costa Rica (12) and Mexico (16).
Interestingly, four of the top six happiest countries are among the coldest countries on the planet, including Norway, Sweden, Denmark and of course, Canada. Switzerland and the Netherlands both have snowy, frigid winters, too, so perhaps they can be included among the cold states of the world.
Are folks in cold countries more warm and fuzzy — and thus happier — by nature? Considering that Poland enters the happiness scale in the 51st spot, the cold is likely not a factor.
As CTV reported yesterday, the editors of the report examined a number of variables based on available data and results from the Gallup World Poll — a survey of citizens in more than 150 countries that asks participants to describe their happiness. A population-weighted score out of 10 was then derived for each country, based on several factors including life expectancy, social ties and GDP per capita.
The study suggests that six key variables explained nearly 75 per cent of the variation in national scores: real GDP per capita, healthy life expectancy, having someone to count on, perceived freedom to make life choices, freedom from corruption and generosity.
As Canadians, we enjoy entrenched freedoms, a good standard of living, and in general we are less prone to distrust our neighbours because we have less reason to. Like Iceland and Sweden, we rank fourth in the world in terms of life expectancy — Switzerland and Japan are ranked No. 1 — and there is no open warfare in our streets.
In short, Canada is a great place to live, even if the cold does bite. And that’s something to be happy about.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition September 10, 2013