New Zealand continues to top polls of world's best countries

Money Doesn't Buy Happiness (In America)

Norwegian law student Karen Nerbo summed up the feelings of many on Monday as her country was named the world's happiest country.

New Zealand has - once again - been named one of the top countries in the world.

Singaporeans remains the "happiest" people in Asia, although the degree of happiness has dropped over the previous year, according to the latest World Happiness Report released on Monday (March 20).

According to Jeffrey D. Sachs, director of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network and co-author of the report, a decline in social support, a loss in the sense of personal freedom, and an increase in distrust of the government, are all key players in America's dwindling happiness.

The slight downside is that Kiwis are not quite as happy now as they were between 2005 and 2007.

Countries are ranked using three-year averages of data collected with the latest report, in its fifth edition, covering 2014-2016.

The US Declaration of Independence inscribed as a fundamental right "the pursuit of happiness", but Norway has taken that goal most to heart.

The report also indicated that Somalia, another crisis-torn nation, is Africa's 5th happiest country ahead of Nigeria and South Africa which ranked 7th.

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The report was released Monday, the United Nations -designated World Happiness Day. Rattled by a slow economic recovery and deeply partisan political landscape, the United States dropped down one spot from a year ago to the 14th happiest in the world.

Readers of the Telegraph in the United Kingdom also voted New Zealand the best country in the world for the fourth year in a row. The data also shows that rising unemployment negatively affects everyone, even those still employed.

In Western countries such as Australia, mental illness turned out to be the most important determinant of happiness - above income, employment or physical wellbeing.

"Why can't Americans who are the brightest people in the world do the same thing as we do to make the happiest people?"

The release coincided with the observance of International Day of Happiness - with happiness measured in terms of per capita GDP, healthy life expectancy at birth, social support, freedom to make life choices, people's generosity and perceptions of corruption.

"The measure of 'Happiness" was based on 3,000 respondents evaluating their current lives on a ladder where 0 represents the worst possible life and 10 the best possible.

"Income differences matter more in poorer countries, but even there mental illness is a major source of misery".

The bottom 10 features Benin, Madagascar, South Sudan, Liberia, Guinea, Togo, and Rwanda.

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