The United States is a world leader in a lot of things — patent filings (thanks, Shark Tank), pharmaceutical sales, and gun deaths, to name a few — but happiness isn’t one of them. The United Nations’ 2016 World Happiness Report was just released and the U.S. ranks a middling 13th out of 150, which shouldn’t come as a surprise given that we’ve never cracked the top 10 in the 4 years the report’s been issued. The winner was Denmark, which retook the top spot from Switzerland, who was reportedly pretty neutral about the competition.
Much like some wonky curling tournament, the rest of the top 5 was rounded out by Northern Europe (Iceland, Norway, and Finland); the 5 worst ideas for your family relocation are Benin, Afghanistan, Togo, Syria, and Burundi. If you’re wondering how a World Happiness Report gets compiled, you’re probably overthinking it, but here it is anyway: Along with concrete figures like GDP and unemployment rates, 3,000 citizens of each country were asked to rank their happiness on a scale of 1 to 10. Factors that they considered included things like healthy life expectancy, social support, freedom, generosity and absence of corruption, violence and disease.
Denmark, of course, should win this thing. In addition to crushing the whole parenting thing, it’s home of the Happiness Research Institute, an independent think-tank working to “inform decision makers of the causes and effects of human happiness, make subjective well-being part of the public policy debate, and improve the quality of life for citizens across the world.” In other words, they’re working on it on a global level so you can work on it on an individual level.
No one will say anything if you steal Denmark’s notes in hopes of building a happier future for your kid, but the kid might be part of the problem: the report found a negative relationship between parenthood and life satisfaction in two-thirds of the countries studied. They don’t name names, but high GDP aligns with that negative relationship so … maybe it’s time to start eating more danishes?