• Norway world’s happiest country – UN report

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    NEW YORK: A bit of cold isn’t keeping Norway from basking in the warmth of being the world’s happiest country, a UN report out Monday found.

    DON’T WORRY, BE HAPPY Teenagers give hugs and balloons to the elderly to celebrate the International Day of Happiness on Monday, an event that is observed worldwide. PHOTO BY BOB DUNGO JR.

    Norway surged from 4th place in last year’s assessment all the way to the top spot, even though oil prices are down, the World Happiness Report 2017 said.

    The top four also included Nordic neighbors Denmark and Iceland as well as Switzerland.

    “All of the top four countries rank highly on all the main factors found to support happiness: caring, freedom, generosity, honesty, health, income and good governance,” the report explained.

    Rounding out the top ten were Finland (5th), the Netherlands (6), Canada (7) and New Zealand (8). Australia and Sweden tied for 9th.

    The entire top ten were wealthier developed nations. Yet money is not the only ingredient in the recipe for happiness, the report said.

    In fact, among the wealthier countries, the differences in happiness levels had a lot to do with “differences in mental health, physical health and personal relationships: the biggest single source of misery is mental illness,” the report said.

    “Income differences matter more in poorer countries, but even their mental illness is a major source of misery,” it added.

    China has made major economic strides in recent years but its people are not happier than 25 years ago, it found.

    The United States meanwhile slipped to the number 14 spot due to less social support and greater corruption; those very factors play into why Nordic countries fare better on this scale of smiles.

    The Philippines’ ranking rose from 82nd in 2016 to 72nd this year, despite the spate of drug-related killings and major controversies that shook the nation such as the alleged involvement of government and police officials in the illegal drug trade.

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