The United States may be home to Disneyland, but it’s not the Happiest Place on Earth for a number of reasons.
According to Gallup’s 2017 World Happiness Report, Norway ranked No. 1 when it comes the main happiness factors: social support, life expectancy, freedom, generosity, corruption, gross domestic product (GDP) and income.
Norway was followed by Demark, Iceland, Switzerland and Finland to round out the top five — all which happen to be Nordic countries. The U.S. ranked No. 15 — down one spot from 2016 — out of 155 countries in the study published by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network.
The last time the U.S. cracked the top 10 was in 2007, when it hit No. 3.
Despite improvement in income and life expectancy, the report attributes America’s ranking to its focus on raising economic growth in a negative political climate.
“Almost all of the policy discourse in Washington D.C. centers on naïve attempts to raise the economic growth rate, as if a higher growth rate would somehow heal the deepening divisions and angst in American society,” the report stated.
The report points to five factors that are the root of America’s social crisis:
- the rise of mega-dollars in U.S. politics
- soaring income and wealth inequality
- decay in social trust related to an immigration surge after 1965
- rise in fear following the 9/11 attacks
- worsening of the American educational system
In order to raise the overall level of happiness among U.S. citizens, the report urges America to rebuild social capital by remedying the five factors through campaign finance reform, reducing financial inequality through new policies, improving race relations and better access to quality education.
The rankings are based on answers to life questions posed to people in 155 countries.
The five least happy countries were Rwanda, Syria, Tanzania, Burundi and the Central African Republic.