Denmark world's happiest country, Burundi least: new report shows

Thu Mar 17, 2016 6:37am EDT
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By Philip Pullella

ROME (Reuters) - Denmark overtook Switzerland as the world's happiest place, according to a report on Wednesday that urged nations regardless of wealth to tackle inequality and protect the environment.

The report, prepared by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and the Earth Institute at Columbia University, showed Syria, Afghanistan and eight sub-Saharan countries as the 10 least happy places on earth to live.

The top 10 this year were Denmark, Switzerland, Iceland, Norway, Finland, Canada, Netherlands, New Zealand, Australia, and Sweden. Denmark was in third place last year, behind Switzerland and Iceland.

The bottom 10 were Madagascar, Tanzania, Liberia, Guinea, Rwanda, Benin, Afghanistan, Togo, Syria and Burundi.

The United States came in at 13, the United Kingdom at 23, France at 32, and Italy at 50.

"There is a very strong message for my country, the United States, which is very rich, has gotten a lot richer over the last 50 years, but has gotten no happier," said Professor Jeffrey Sachs, head of the SDSN and special advisor to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

While the differences between countries where people are happy and those where they are not could be scientifically measured, "we can understand why and do something about it," Sachs, one of the report's authors, told Reuters in an interview in Rome.

"The message for the United States is clear. For a society that just chases money, we are chasing the wrong things. Our social fabric is deteriorating, social trust is deteriorating, faith in government is deteriorating," he said.   Continued...

People wave Danish flags as they celebrate the 75th birthday of Denmark's Queen Margrethe, who is received at the City Hall, April 16, 2015. REUTERS/Mathias Bojesen/Scanpix Denmark