People living in Switzerland are the happiest in the world thanks to positive social and economic factors, the 2015 World Happiness Report says.
Published Thursday, the report from the Sustainable Development Solutions Network found the fellow northern hemisphere countries of Iceland, Denmark, Norway and Canada rounded out the top five happiest in the world. The United States came in 15th, down from 11th in the report's inaugural year of 2012.
"The aspiration of society is the flourishing of its members," said Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute, Columbia University. "This report gives evidence on how to achieve societal well-being. It's not by money alone, but also by fairness, honesty, trust, and good health. The evidence here will be useful to all countries as they pursue the new Sustainable Development Goals."
The report authors looked at a variety of factors to determine the ranking of 158 countries: GDP per capita, social support, healthy life expectancy, freedom to make life choices, generosity and perceptions of corruption.
"As the science of happiness advances, we are getting to the heart of what factors define quality of life for citizens," said report editor John F. Helliwell. "We are encouraged that more and more governments around the world are listening and responding with policies that put well-being first. Countries with strong social and institutional capital not only support greater well-being, but are more resilient to social and economic crises."
Coming in as the least happy country was the western African nation of Togo. Neighboring Benin came in 155th. Filling out the rest of the bottom five were Burundi, war-torn Syria and Rwanda.