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Happiest countries in the world

Last updated on: June 7, 2012 10:48 IST

Happiest countries in the world

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Economic prosperity, health and a strong social support network continue to correspond highly with happiness around the world.

The Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development has measured more than 30 sets of data in 11 different categories, including education, health and employment.

The study also asked residents of each country to rank, on a scale of 1 to 10, their general satisfaction with their lives.

It has come out with a list of happiest countries around the world.

Let's have a look at these nations.

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Image: People enjoy a ride at Prater amusement park in Vienna.
Photographs: Lisi Niesner/Reuters

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1. Denmark

Life satisfaction score: 7.8

Employment rate: 73 per cent (sixth highest)

Self-reported good health: 71 per cent (17th highest)

Employees working long hours: 1.92 per cent (fourth lowest)

Disposable income: $23,213 (15th lowest)

Educational attainment: 76 per cent (18th lowest)

Life expectancy: 79.3 (11th lowest)

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Image: Boats are seen anchored at the 17th century Nyhavn district, home to many shops and restaurants in Copenhagen.
Photographs: Bob Strong/Reuters
Tags: , Life , Denmark

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Denmark tops the OECD ranking as the country with the most satisfied citizens among the countries studied by the OECD.

In addition to the OECD, organisations such as the World Map of Happiness and the World Database of Happiness have consistently put Denmark at the top of their list of the world's happiest countries.

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Image: A cyclist rides past autumn-coloured ivy climbing the wall of a building in downtown Copenhagen.
Photographs: Bob Strong/Reuters

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2. Norway

Life satisfaction score: 7.6

Employment rate: 75 per cent (tied, thrird highest)

Self-reported good health: 80 per cent (eighth highest)

Employees working long hours: 2.66 per cent (fifth lowest)

Disposable income: $30,465 (third highest)

Educational attainment: 81 per cent (tied-15th highest)

Life expectancy: 81.2 (10th highest)

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Image: A general view of the aurora borealis near the city of Tromsoe in northern Norway.
Photographs: Rune Stoltz Bertinussen/Scanpix/Reuters
Tags: , Life , Norway

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Of all the nations examined in the OECD's report, Norway is among the most financially secure. Of working-age adults, 75 per cent are employed - the third-best rate.

Also, the average household disposable income is $30,645, the third highest among OECD nations.

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Image: People walk past the Grand Hotel in Oslo.
Photographs: Kyrre Lien/Scanpix/Reuters
Tags: OECD , Norway

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3. Netherlands

Life satisfaction score: 7.5

Employment rate: 75 per cent (third highest)

Self-reported good health: 77 per cent (11th highest)

Employees working long hours: 0.68 per cent (second lowest)

Disposable income: $25,740 (13th highest)

Educational attainment: 73 per cent (15th lowest)

Life expectancy: 80.8 (14th highest)

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Image: The Distilleerketel, a windmill built in 1727 and used to grind rye, can be seen at Delfshaven, an area of Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
Photographs: Michael Kooren/Reuters
Tags: , Netherlands , Life

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The Dutch government is heavily involved in internal economic affairs, playing a "significant role... pertaining to almost every aspect of economic activity," according to the US Department of State.

Of those employed, only 0.68 per cent work longer than 50 hours a week - the second-lowest percentage among those surveyed.

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Image: Tourists cycle as they drink beer and sing karaoke on a beerbike in Amsterdam.
Photographs: Robin van Lonkhuijsen/Reuters

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4. Switzerland

Life satisfaction score: 7.5

Employment rate: 79 per cent (first highest)

Self-reported good health: 87 per cent (fourth highest)

Employees working long hours: 5.87 per cent (17th highest)

Disposable income: $27,756 (fifth most)

Educational attainment: 87 per cent (eighth highest)

Life expectancy: 82.6 (second highest)

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Image: People walk on Zurich's main shopping street Bahnhofstrasse.
Photographs: Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters
Tags: , Switzerland

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The most salient statistic with respect to well-being for the fourth ranked country on the list is employment. Switzerland tops the list in terms of working age employment rate at a whopping 79 per cent.

Switzerland also cracks the top five in three other categories: disposable income ($27,756), self-reported good health (87 per cent) and life expectancy (82.6 years).

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Image: A view of the Prime Tower office building (126 metres) in Zurich in front of the eastern Swiss Alps.
Photographs: Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters

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5. Austria

Life satisfaction score: 7.5

Employment rate: 72 per cent (eighth highest)

Self-reported good health: 69 per cent (17th lowest)

Employees working long hours: 9.02 per cent (10th highest)

Disposable income: $27,541 (seventh highest)

Educational attainment: 82 per cent (tied-12th highest)

Life expectancy: 80.7 (22nd lowest)

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Image: A jogger crosses the garden of Schoenbrunn castle in front of Gloriette in Vienna.
Photographs: Heinz-Peter Bader/Reuters
Tags: , Austria , Life

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Austria stands out in many economic categories. Ranking within the top 10 in both employment rate and disposable income, the Austrians have certainly had some measure of financial success.

Disposable income, in particular, stands out as a strong factor in happiness for Austrians.

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Image: People enjoy the evening at Donaukanal in the centre of Vienna.
Photographs: Herwig Prammer/Reuters
Tags: , Austria

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6. Israel

Life satisfaction score: 7.4

Employment rate: 60 per cent (11th lowest)

Self-reported good health: 81 per cent (seventh highest)

Employees working long hours: 18.92 per cent (third highest)

Disposable income: N/A

Educational attainment: 82 per cent (tied-12th highest)

Life expectancy: 81.7 years (sixth highest)

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Image: A general view shows central Tel Aviv backed by the Mediterranean Sea.
Photographs: Nir Elias/Reuters
Tags: , Life , Israel

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Israelis have a life expectancy of 81.7 years - sixth highest among OECD nations. The country also has a low obesity rate of 13.8 per cent, while 81 per cent of those surveyed report their health to be "good" or "very good".

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Image: People walk past a cafe in Tel Aviv.
Photographs: Sharon Perry/Reuters
Tags: OECD

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7. Finland

Life satisfaction score: 7.4

Employment rate: 68 per cent (14th highest)

Self-reported good health: 68 per cent (15th lowest)

Employees working long hours: 3.66 per cent (eighth lowest)

Disposable income: $24,958 (14th highest)

Educational attainment: 82 per cent (tied-12th highest)

Life expectancy: 80.2 years (16th lowest)

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Image: A cafe in the square of the Three Blacksmiths, Helsinki.
Photographs: Stringer/Reuters
Tags: , Life , Finland

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According to OECD figures, the Finns value their free time. They devote 14.9 hours per day to leisure on average, the ninth highest among developed nations.

Finland also has the eighth-lowest percentage of employees working more than 50 hours per week, at only 3.66 per cent.

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Image: A tram which has been converted into a rolling pub combines sightseeing with a night on the town in Helsinki.
Photographs: Agnieszka Flak/Reuters
Tags: OECD , Finland

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8. Australia

Life satisfaction score: 7.4

Employment rate: 72 per cent (ninth highest)

Self-reported good health: 85 per cent (fifth highest)

Employees working long hours:13.99 per cent (fourth highest)

Disposable income: $26,927 (ninth highest)

Educational attainment: 71 per cent (tied-12th lowest)

Life expectancy: 81.8 years (fifth highest)

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Image: Rowers train at dawn on the Yarra River in Melbourne.
Photographs: Toby Melville/Reuters
Tags: , Life , Australia

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Of the countries with high life satisfaction, Australia's citizens have comparatively little leisure time. They tend to work long hours, with nearly 14 per cent of the population working 50 hours a week or more.

Australians are healthier than most, with a life expectancy of 81.8 years - the fifth highest in the OECD.

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Image: Girl walks past a bronze statue of a kangaroo drinking from a pond in Perth.
Photographs: Tim Wimborne/Reuters
Tags: OECD , Australia

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9. Canada

Life satisfaction score: 7.4

Employment rate: 72 per cent (seventh highest)

Self-reported good health: 88 per cent (third highest)

Employees working long hours: 3.91 per cent (11th lowest)

Disposable income: $27,138 (eighth highest)

Educational attainment: 88 per cent (fifth highest)

Life expectancy: 80.8 years (13th highest)

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Image: People walk in Old Quebec City.
Photographs: Mathieu Belanger/Reuters
Tags: , Life , Canada

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Canada's score of 7.4 has much to do with the success of its health care system, a socialized plan that provides coverage to all of its citizens.

As many as 88 per cent of Canadians report their health to be "good" or "very good", which ranks third among all nations surveyed.

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Image: A view of the Montreal skyline from Mont-Royal mountain.
Photographs: Shaun Best/Reuters
Tags: , Canada

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10. Sweden

Life satisfaction score: 7.3

Employment rate: 73 per cent (fifth highest)

Self-reported good health: 79 per cent (ninth highest)

Employees working long hours: 1.28 per cent (third lowest)

Disposable income: $26,633 (11th highest)

Educational attainment: 86 per cent (ninth highest)

Life expectancy: 81.5 years (seventh highest)

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Image: Pedestrians walk down the main shopping street in Stockholm's Gamla Stan or Old Town district.
Photographs: Bob Strong/Reuters
Tags: , Life , Sweden

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In the OECD's latest Better Life Index report, Sweden scores 7.3, the 10th-best score. Sweden has a life expectancy of 81.5 years, which is the seventh highest in the OECD.

The country has extremely low pollution levels as well. According to the Better Life Index data, 97 per cent of Swedes are satisfied with the quality of their drinking water - the second most among developed countries.


Image: Children try out a skateboard park built under a concrete viaduct in Ralambshov Park in central Stockholm.
Photographs: Scanpix/Reuters
Tags: OECD , Sweden , Swedes

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