Gross domestic product per capita
Healthy life expectancy
Freedom to make your own life choices
Generosity of general population
Perceptions of internal and external corruption levels
By relating all of the countries around the world individually to a made-up country called Dystopia, the researchers were able to configure a baseline to which they could compare all other countries. This enabled the study to have something to base the conclusions on rather than not providing any sort of rock bottom.
The country with the highest score was Finland, which is a European country. Fascinating enough, every single country in the top five spots for happiest countries in the world are European countries. Finland is followed in order by Denmark, Norway, Iceland, and the Netherlands. All six variables are considered when defining a score for each country.
The lowest-scoring country in the World Happiness Report of 2019 is South Sudan. With a total ranking of 2.853, South Sudan appears to have a very short life expectancy rate, paired with low gross domestic product rates per capita, though the percentage of generosity within the country is relatively decent. People seem to feel supported to a reasonable degree in South Sudan, which is amazing.
However, where the country fails to excel most is in the category of the freedom to make your own life choices as a citizen of South Sudan. There is no indication whatsoever that freedom is an option for South Sudanese residents, which looks to be quite a necessary factor in order to a country to rank well on the happiness chart. Afghanistan is the third least happy country in the world and the data is void of any amount of freedom to make personal life choices for Afghanistan as well.
Here is some background information about the top five countries on the list of the happiest countries in the world, based on the 2019 edition of the World Happiness Report.
Finland ranks as the happiest country in the world based on data collected for the projection of the 2019 report. The total score of Finland, if you will, is 7.769 out of a total possible score of 10. The GDP per capita of Finland is just under 2.5 and the overall feeling that there is communal support among citizens of Finland is around 2.5 as well.
The fact that people feel reassured by others in the country speaks volumes, especially because it can be quite difficult to be happy if you do not feel you are supported or if you don't have a support system backing you and your decisions. The freedom to make choices in Finland appears to be alive and well, and if you glance at the scores within this variable among the happier countries, it is evident that this sense of freedom is rather pertinent where happiness is involved.
There is a very low percentage of people who believe that there is a wealth of generosity in Finland, which paints the picture that maybe generosity is not as important for overall happiness among people and within cultures. There is a ladder bar of about 0.3 that depicts Finnish people's perception of corruption, but because the other variables are so high-ranking, the positive feelings they elicit diminish the negativity that corruption may bring to mind.
The second happiest country on the list is Denmark, which trails behind Finland with a ranking of 7.600 -- a mere 0.169 points away from matching Finland. The values for each of the six variables as they relate to Denmark are fairly similar to those of Finland. The primary difference between the two countries relates to generosity and perceptual corruption.
Denmark has a slightly higher calculation of generosity, and the same goes for the perceived amount of corruption within the country. If you look closely enough, you will see that there is a relatively higher level of corruption perceived by those in Denmark than those in Finland, which is major enough to drop Denmark into second place.
As the third happiest country in the world, Norway scored a total of 7.554 out of the possible ten. Norway has a higher bar representing the level of generosity in the country, in comparison to that of Finland and Denmark. In fact, all of the categorical color-coded bars appear to be lengthier than those of Finland and Denmark. Where Norway loses leverage is with its residual value in relation to Dystopia. In tandem with that point is the smaller bar denoting the 95% confidence interval.
Iceland ranks as the fourth happiest country in the entire world, with a grand total rank of 7.494 out of ten. Of the top five happiest countries around the globe, Iceland has the lowest amount of perceived corruption. The country's overall social incorporation of support systems is somewhat greater than the other five countries, though it is not quite significant enough to make much of a difference or kick another country out of a higher-ranking placeholder and insert Iceland in its place.
The Netherlands is the fifth and final of the top five happiest countries in the world. The Netherlands has an overall ranking of 7.488. The countries included in the report make a slow descent as they go from the happiest to the least happy. The Netherlands follows suit, but it is not a drastic jump from Finland to the Netherlands, surprisingly.
The Netherlands only ranks a small 0.281 less than Finland, the happiest country in the world, so the discrepancy really isn't that large between Finland and the Netherlands. The Netherlands has a similar GDP per capita in relation to Finland, while the life expectancy rate of the Netherlands is slightly higher than that of Finland. It’s all about perspective.