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Scandinavian Countries On Top as the World’s Happiest Places; U.S. Makes it to No. 17

Update Date: Sep 10, 2013 11:42 AM EDT

When it comes to finding happiness, there is a saying that reads, "it doesn't matter where you are, it's who you are with." This phrase suggests that our company makes us happy. Even though that might be true to a certain extent, a new United Nations report suggests that your location can play a huge factor as well. Based from this report, if you are not happy where you are, you might want to move to one of the Scandinavian countries.

The three Scandinavian countries that made it to the top five coveted spots of being the world's happiest places to live were Denmark, Norway and Sweden. The other two spots were filled by nearby European countries The Netherlands and Switzerland. The United States barely made it to the top-20-list sitting at number 17. The lowest ranking nations included Togo, at dead last, Rwanda, Burundi, Benin and the Central African Republic.

The report, which was commissioned by the U.N. Sustainable Development Solutions Network looked at 156 countries. The researchers used the individuals' self-reports of their lives, which were gathered in the Gallup World Poll. The poll was conducted between 2010 and 2012. The questions were designed to measure people's level of happiness based on their own feelings regarding social support during times of need and the level of freedom when it comes making life decisions. The authors of the report hope that countries will use this list to help them make better policies that would improve quality of life for their citizens.

"There is now a rising worldwide demand that policy be more closely aligned with what really matters to people as they themselves characterize their well-being," the co-editor and director of Columbia University's Earth Institute, Professor Jeffery Sachs said. "The World Happiness Report 2013 offers rich evidence that the systematic measurement and analysis of happiness can teach us a lot about ways to improve the world's well-being and sustainable development."

This report is only the second one of its kind. The first one was conducted last year. Based from the rankings, the countries did not shift up or down the list too dramatically. The countries that made it to the top part of the list have longer life expectancies, higher earnings and higher levels of productivity.

The second annual World Happiness Report can be found here. 

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