Happy woman on beach holding flowers

How happy is the world in 2016?

The World Happiness Report recently released its 2016 Update. First published in 2012 by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network, the report ranks the national happiness of more than 150 countries. For summaries of previous editions, check out the TINAN articles on the 2012, 2013, and 2015 reports.

The 2016 Update examined population surveys that asked respondents to rate their lives from 0-10 based on levels of GDP, life expectancy, generosity, social support, freedom, and corruption. Unlike previous reports, however, the Update also looked at the measures and consequences of inequality. The authors argue that inequality of well-being provides a better measure of the distribution of people’s welfare than measures like income or wealth.

Of the 156 countries identified, Canada ranks sixth (down one spot from 2015), following Denmark, Switzerland, Iceland, Norway, and Finland. Canada ranked well in terms of citizenship, entrepreneurship, and openness for business categories. The United States comes in at number 13 overall. On the other end of the spectrum, Syria and Brunei rank as the least happy.

By adding to the body of research, the World Happiness Report not only supports the UN Sustainable Development Goals but also provides a basis for increased attention to happiness at the level of national policy. Bhutan, Ecuador, the UAE and Venezuela have taken note of the potential for happiness and well-being policy development, each appointing a minister of happiness to their governments.

This post first appeared in TINAN 71. Subscribe to TINAN for the latest economic development news and resources.