Don't Worry, Israelis Are the Happiest People in the Mideast

Latest annual World Happiness Report ranks Israel in 11th spot, not far below Switzerland, Denmark and Canada. The Palestinians, however, rank 108.

A girl celebrating Independence Day in Tel Aviv, Israel, April 22, 2015.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

Israelis are the eleventh happiest nation on earth, according to the latest annual World Happiness Report, which was released on Thursday.

The geography of happiness. Countries in green are the happiest; those in red the least happy.Credit: Screenshot

The Palestinians, however, are a lot less happy, ranking 108 in the list of 158 countries.

Switzerland has the world's happiest people, followed by Iceland, Denmark, Norway and Canada.

The unhappiest people on earth are to be found in Togo, in sub-Saharan Africa, followed by those in Togo, Burundi, Syria, Benin and Rwanda. Five of the bottom six nations are in Africa.

Produced by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN,) the report was first issued in 2012, the same year that the United Nations General Assembly established The International Day of Happiness.

It looked at such factors as healthy life expectancy, the presence of social support systems, freedom to make choices and gross domestic product (GDP) per capita, which determine most of the variations in people's well-being over time and among countries.

For the first time, researchers broke down the data by gender, age and region.

Israelis are by far the happiest people in the Middle East, according to the report's rankings. Their closest competitors are the populations of the United Arab Emirates (in 20th spot,) Oman (22,) Qatar (28) and Saudi Arabia (35.)

The United States was ranked 15th, beating the United Kingdom (21,) France (29) and way ahead of Russia, in 64th spot. Iran was ranked 110th, only two places higher than Iraq (112.)

The researchers found that, on average, women's assessments of their happiness were slightly higher than those of men, and that young people are happier than older people.

Nine of the top 10 countries this year were also at the top in the 2013 study, although the rankings have changed. Denmark held top spot in 2013.

An assessment of changes between 2005-2007 and 2012-2014 indicates the impact of the global financial crisis on national happiness.

Greece, which was badly hit by the economic recession, saw a considerable drop in the happiness of its people. Egypt and Italy also dropped sharply in the rankings.

Of the 125 countries with data available for both 2005-2007 and 2012-2014, there were 53 countries with significant improvements, 41 with significant worsening, and 36 without significant change," the report said.