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Settling abroad: what are the world’s happiest countries?
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Are there countries where expats are more likely to be happy? According to the UN 2022 World Happiness Report, which ranks countries around the globe depending on their citizens’ sense of well-being, there certainly are. What if happiness was a development indicator, just like GDP? Though population well-being positively influences a country’s growth, measuring it is tricky… Where are people most likely to be happy?

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Top happiest countries

According to the 2022 World Happiness Report, Northern Europe is the happiest place on earth. Out of the 146 ranked countries, the ten happiest nations are the following:

  1. Finland
  2. Denmark
  3. Iceland
  4. Switzerland
  5. The Netherlands
  6. Luxembourg
  7. Sweden
  8. Norway
  9. Israel
  10. New Zealand

The study also reveals that well-being inequality has generally increased since 2011, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and North Africa, Latin America and South and South-East Asia.

Measuring happiness: what criteria?

Can one really objectively measure the well-being of a country’s population knowing that criteria for happiness may vary between individuals and across cultures? Attempts to identify criteria which allow assessment of population quality of life and well-being are becoming more and more frequent. The UN has identified six criteria:

  • the GDP per capita,
  • healthy life expectancy,
  • generosity,
  • freedom from corruption,
  • social support,
  • freedom.

The OECD also has studied the factors determining happiness; in particular by creating a Better Life Index allowing the user to view and compare 80 indicators of better living in the 37 OECD countries and 4 partner countries. 11 dimensions are analysed:

  • income and wealth,
  • work and job quality,
  • housing,
  • health,
  • knowledge and skills,
  • quality of the environment,
  • subjective well-being,
  • security,
  • work-life balance,
  • social connections,
  • civic engagement.

Best countries to work in

Does the list of happiest countries match the list of countries where workers are most likely to be fulfilled? In the Human Capital Index 2020, the World Economic Forum measures the level of human capital that a child born today is likely to achieve by the time they are eighteen years old across 174 countries according to several criteria, such as survival, education and health.

The ten countries with the highest index are:

  1. Singapore
  2. Hong Kong
  3. Japan
  4. South Korea
  5. Canada
  6. Finland
  7. Macau
  8. Sweden
  9. Ireland
  10. The Netherlands

There are only 3 countries in this ranking that are in the list of the happiest countries in the world...

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