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By Patricia Reaney
March 19, 2017
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Norway displaced Denmark as the world’s happiest country in a new report released on Monday that called on nations to build social trust and equality to improve the wellbeing of their citizens.
The Nordic nations are the most content, according to the World Happiness Report 2017 produced by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), a global initiative launched by the United Nations in 2012.
Countries in sub-Saharan Africa, along with Syria and Yemen, are the least happy of the 155 countries ranked in the fifth annual report released at the United Nations.
“Happy countries are the ones that have a healthy balance of prosperity, as conventionally measured, and social capital, meaning a high degree of trust in a society, low inequality and confidence in government,” Jeffrey Sachs, the director of the SDSN and a special advisor to the United Nations Secretary-General, said in an interview.
The aim of the report, he added, is to provide another tool for governments, business and civil society to help their countries find a better way to wellbeing.
Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, Finland, Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Sweden rounded out the top ten countries.
A.K.A., the Blue-Eyed Utopias.
Of course, these are just about the least happy-go-lucky countries on earth. Having a lot of worry-warts unsurprisingly contributes to Magic Dirt.
South Sudan, Liberia, Guinea, Togo, Rwanda, Tanzania, Burundi and the Central African Republic were at the bottom.
Germany was ranked 16, followed by the United Kingdom (19) and France (31). The United States dropped one spot to 14.
Rankings aren’t based on actual happiness, but instead on what Jeffrey Sachs thinks ought to contribute to happiness:
The rankings are based on six factors — per capita gross domestic product, healthy life expectancy, freedom, generosity, social support and absence of corruption in government or business.
According to a more authoritative source than Dr. Sachs, Modern Drunkard magazine, sub-Saharan Africans are pretty darn happy:
At first blush, this place seems gripped in pandemic suffering. A closer look reveals the true nature of southern Africa: It is a drinker’s paradise. Hundreds of miles of beaches with names like Monkey Bay and Candy Beach line the eastern coast of Mozambique and the enormous Lake Malawi, providing the perfect setting for canoeing, fishing, and drinking the hot days away. Homemade liquors and bottled beers are available at almost every roadside shack, some conveniently attached to rest houses where one can sleep off a particularly frightening bender in a cheap, clean bed. Pocket change will buy a round for the entire bar and, of course, the police have never, and I mean never, heard of a Breathalyzer.
Women do almost all the daily work in southern Africa: cooking, finding food, raising children, and tidying up around the hut, which leaves men free to spend the day pursuing more amiable interests, like drinking until they can barely stand or form sentences.
And because the possibility of finding a job is laughable and property ownership largely hereditary, there is no expectation that the people of this region become clock-punching cubicle drones or slaves to a mortgage. While they lack the amenities we Westerners couldn’t imagine living without—such as hot, clean water, electricity, or a life expectancy greater than 35 years—they do have the luxury of being able to relax with good friends and a few dozen drinks every single day of the year.
And, boy, do they drink. From the rooster’s first call to the hour when night descends—or until they collapse from drinking in the sun, which in that part of the world can burn like a death ray—Africa’s heaviest drinkers have it pretty good in both lifestyle and beverage selection…