Policy-makers should pay attention to world happiness rankings: DiManno

Norway topped the world happiness rankings, which were based on factors including economics, health and life expectancy.  (DAMON WINTER / The New York Times file photo)  

The world needs more . . . Norway.

Or at least, we should all be more like Norwegians, who have apparently discovered the fountain of well-being, despite being most famously associated with Edvard Munch’s agonized The Scream.

Now, I’ve always known that Norway was in a league of its own for friendliness and contentment and hospitality, which is why I’ve long advocated for the Winter Olympics to be permanently sited in Lillehammer or Oslo. And of course they’re a winter sports dynamo, collecting 107 gold medals in Games competition. If they ever get really good at hockey, Canada will be in trouble. Fortunately for us, they prefer cross country skiing and biathlon. Those sports are national passions and quirks.

For all my life, Canadians have been compared, unfavourably, to Swedes — you know, the average 60-year-old Swede fitter than the average 30-year-old Canadian. But apparently we should cast our eyes further west in Scandinavia if we want to lead cheerful and gratifying lives.

The proof is in the World Happiness Report, released Monday, with Norway topping the tables, vaulting four spots to Numero Uno over last year, measured by economics, health, life expectancy, sense of community and various other polling data. In reaching the heights of fulfilment, Norway has pushed Denmark down to No. 2. Denmark actually has a Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen so they take the subject seriously. The only Dane I know is Maple Leaf goalie Frederik Andersen and he doesn’t come across as particularly jolly, especially after the team loses another shootout (1-for-8 going into Monday night’s game against Boston.)

In fact, scoring difference among the four happiest nations — Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland — is just about statistically insignificant, beyond bragging rights.


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