New Zealanders, Australians Among World's Happiest People

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By Reissa Su | September 13, 2013 11:35 AM EST

New Zealanders and Australians are among world's happiest people in the world.  The United Nations World Happiness Report ranked New Zealand as 13th happiest country out of 156 nations, while Australia ranked 10th place.

Countries in Northern Europe dominated the top 5 list of happiest nations with Denmark leading the rest of the world's happiest.  Norway came in second, followed by Switzerland, Netherlands and Sweden.

Australia is happier than the United States in 17th place.  The United Kingdom ranked 22nd in the World Happiness Report. 

New Zealand dropped two places from the eighth spot of the 2012 list of happiest nations. The UN reported a 2.1 per cent decline in happiness levels among Kiwis. 

The UN World Happiness Report also revealed that the world's unhappiest nation can be found in western Africa's Toga followed by Benin, Burundi, Rwanda and Tanzania.

The world happiness report was based on a survey of citizens in 156 nations who were asked to rate their own happiness levels.

The UN assessed the range of other factors affecting happiness, including health, wealth and freedom to make choices, freedom from corruption and generosity.  The latest list of world's happiest nations was based on survey results gathered between 2010 and 2012.

The latest world happiness report also concluded that the world is happier and more generous over the past 5 years despite the Global Financial Crisis which has crippled some economies.

According to the report, mental illness was the most important cause of unhappiness.  The issue of mental health should be cause of concern for policymakers. 

A Kiwi psychologist, Christ Skellet, said that New Zealanders are happy because they have a "pioneering ethic" and a "can-do-attitude. "  Most Kiwis also want to be more involved in the community and play a significant role in society.

Australians have more reasons to be happy because business confidence is up. According to the National Australia Bank's report, business confidence index has increased.  The latest figure is said to be the best since May 2011. 

Elections are over in Australia which removes one uncertainty in the country as the new Coalition government eases into a new leadership era with Tony Abbott as prime minister. 

Strong data from China has increased Australia's retail sales, industrial production and electricity generation.  Interest rates remain low as the Reserve Bank of Australia keeps rates on hold. 

UN Top 20 Nations for Happiness 2013

1. Denmark

2. Norway

3. Switzerland

4. Netherlands

5. Sweden

6. Canada

7. Finland

8. Austria

9. Iceland

10. Australia

11. Israel

12. Costa Rica

13. New Zealand

14. United Arab Emirates

15. Panama

16. Mexico

17. United States

18. Ireland

19. Luxembourg

20. Venezuela

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