For the third year in a row, Switzerland has dropped in the United Nation’s World Happiness report – though it still remains in the top five.
The annual reportExternal link for the year 2018 was published on Wednesday in the Vatican, by the UN’s Sustainable Development Solutions Network.
Switzerland ranked fifth behind the Nordic countries of Finland, Norway, Denmark and Iceland. In 2015, the Alpine nation won first place in the ranking, but subsequently dropped to second in 2016 and fourth last year.
The Swiss result, like the others in the top 10, was largely influenced by healthy satisfaction levels regarding social support networks, life expectancy, life freedom, and (especially, in the Swiss case) GDP per capita.
The world’s unhappiest people all live in African countries, the report states, with Burundi listed at the bottom of the ranking.
For the first time in its history, the report also took into consideration the happiness levels of a country’s immigrant population.
The top ten nations in the ranking all scored high both in overall happiness and the happiness of immigrants, prompting John Helliwell, a co-editor of the report, to say that “happiness seems contagious.”
“The most striking finding of the report is the remarkable consistency between the happiness of immigrants and the locally born,” Helliwell told the Reuters news agency. "Those who move to happier countries gain, while those who move to less happy countries lose."
Meanwhile, the US dropped four places from 14th to 18th. While American income per capita has increased markedly over the last half century, happiness has been hit by weakened social support networks, a perceived rise in corruption in government and business, and declining confidence in public institutions, the report found.
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