Once again, the United Nations revealed which are the happiest countries on Earth through the 2017 World Happiness Report.
This year, Norway got the first place after three years pursuing Denmark’s leadership on this ranking. Therefore, Norway is now officially considered the country with the happiest inhabitants in the world, but what does that mean?
This UN’s report compares 155 countries in total and some of them are usually in the top 10, like Switzerland or Iceland, and no, it is not just a matter of money. According to the report, other factors are equally important such as “caring, freedom, generosity, honesty, health, income and good governance”.
To complete the top 10 there are also Finland, Holland, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and Sweden.
Is the UN’s World Happiness Report useful for all countries, as it can increase a healthy competition between them? Or can we see it as a strategy to attract tourism?
Here’s Richard Sharpley’s, Professor of Tourism & Development (from the University of Central Lancashire), opinion on the issue:
“To be honest, although these reports on ‘happiest countries’ and ‘happiest cities’ are interesting, I’ve often wondered what the point of them is….. and to answer the second question first, no, I don’t think either the production of the reports, or trying to become a ‘happy’ country, is a strategy to attract tourism. People may be intrigued to visit a county that is reported to be ‘happy’ but, ironically perhaps, a country that is deemed to be happy in terms of wealth, health, culture, etc. would not necessarily try to promote tourism, given that tourism is generally utilized as means of achieving economic growth and development… (and happiness?).
Then, what is happiness after all and why do we measure it?
“More generally, ‘happiness’ or perhaps ‘contentment’ (the former can be more immediate and transitory than the latter) is both subjective and an individual state of being – I’m sure there are plenty of happy people in Norway (and everywhere else) but equally, undoubtedly there are less- / unhappy people in Norway too. I think the main benefit of these reports is that they indicate the kind of contextual factors that may underpin a person’s sense of well-being and happiness: freedom (of choice), a sense of community / belonging, income (or rather, equality of income) and so on – some of these are cultural and hence ‘within’ a country, but many are dependent on good governance, which is where much can be learned from these reports.”, he concluded.