Canada Ranks 5th in World Happiness ReportBusiness in Toronto / Ontario, Call Centre, CSR Canada, Economic News, News, Philanthropy, Toronto News | Elyse | April 13, 2012 at 12:01 am
Have you ever wondered where the happiest place to live is? No, the answer is not Disneyland. It’s actually Denmark according to the first ever World Happiness Report and Canada is the 5th happiest place.
The World Happiness Report was commissioned for the April 2nd 2012 United Nations Conference on Happiness (mandated by the UN General Assembly) and was published by the Earth Institute, Columbia University and co-edited by the institute’s director, Jeffrey Sachs, Richard Layard and John Helliwell from the University of British Columbia. One of the goals of the study was to inspire governments to incorporate citizens’ happiness into policy-making decisions. Those compiling the report looked into a variety of factors in determining the happiest country and although it was not surprising that wealth did come into play, it was not the deciding factor.
When looking at individual happiness, the key points may differ slightly but they generally include: physical and mental well-being, job security and having a stable family.
Aside from wealth, issues that are imperative to happiness on a broad scale for a country include: “Political freedom, strong social networks and an absence of corruption in government dealings. [These key factors come] together [to be] more important than income in explaining well-being differences between the top and bottom countries.”
According to the report, the top ten happiest places to live are: 1) Denmark; 2) Finland; 3) Norway; 4) Netherlands; 5) Canada; 6) Switzerland; 7) Sweden; 8) New Zealand; 9) Australia; and 10) Ireland.
The United States ranked 11th and the United Kingdome came in 18th.
“GNP [gross national product] by itself does not promote happiness,” said Jeffrey Sachs co-editor of the report. “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.”
Some interesting items revealed in the report are:
- A country’s happiness is not tied to its Gross National Product (GNP).
- Unemployment is on the same scale as bereavement and separation from loved ones in terms of being a cause for unhappiness.
- Job security and good relationships with co-workers and employers affect happiness more than flexible hours and higher salaries.
The report also recommended practical suggestions for governments to consider to promote happiness among its citizens, “including helping people meet their basic needs, reinforcing social systems, implementing active labour policies, improving mental health services, promoting compassion, altruism and honesty, and helping the public resist hyper-commercialism” as noted by cbc.ca.
This report illustrates that when looking at happiness one does have to take into consideration much more than just economic standing. The old adage: money doesn’t buy happiness is true; however, it does afford things like healthcare that does impact the happiness of citizens. In fact, “the 150-page report argues that traditional economic policy is at odds with human nature and inefficient at promoting happiness, because it focuses on income to the exclusion of all the other factors that support happiness and explain its variation across countries.”
It is almost affirming that there is more to happiness than just money, especially in harsh economic times. The findings of this survey will also have practical implications for businesses that should heed what’s important to its employees and focus more on engagement by fostering relationships in the workplace to help boost morale and increase productivity.
Say what you want about the report’s substance, as a Canadian I was pretty psyched about placing 5th just as I was when we took top spot on the Forbes Best Country for Business List this past October. I figure any and all reports that recognize Canada for the great country it is (and the better country it can be), I’ll gladly get behind and applaud.
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