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Icelanders are the third happiest nation in the world, according to new study

By Staff

  • The weather does not bring Icelanders down The happiest people in the world are the Danes, followed by Switzerland. Iceland comes in third. Photo/Daníel Rúnarsson.

The latest World Happiness Report, published by the United Nations, finds that Icelanders are the third happiest people in the world. The World Happiness Report 2016 Update, ranks 156 countries by their happiness levels, using data from the Gallup World Poll. The poll asked respondents to think of a ladder, with the best possible life for them being a 10, and the worst possible life being a 0. They are then asked to rate their own current lives on that 0 to 10 scale. This is the fourth World Happiness Report. The first report was published in 2012.

Read more: Study: Ease of communication between Icelandic children and their parents among the greatest in the world

One of the things this year’s report looks at is the circumstances and policies that enabled some countries to navigate the recession, in terms of happiness, better than others. Iceland is of course an example of a country which has managed to navigate an extremely deep economic recession, caused by the financial crisis, and still maintain very high levels of happiness.

A key factor is the “inequality of happiness”: People are happier living in societies where there is less “inequality of happiness”, that is, where happiness is less unequally distributed among the population. Iceland, the report finds, has seen a significant reduction in the inequality of happiness since the immediate post-crisis years.

Read more: Iceland has the second highest quality of life among OECD countries

A second key factor behind the happiness of Icelanders, is the strength of the social fabric. A very high fraction says they have someone they report to having someone they could count on in times of trouble:

“The build-up and aftermath of the banking crisis put the Icelandic social fabric to a serious test. The subsequent recovery of average happiness suggests that the test was passed.”

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