• paul of Others

    While high levels of well-being are often found in countries with rich countries, economic growth is not enough to spur well-being. Take a look at how these 10 countries are able to maintain a high level of well-being and happiness within its citizens!

    The Rankings
    The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is probably one of the most recognized metric system used to measure a country’s success. While it tells the performance of one country in the economy, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it tells how the citizens are doing. After all, what is the use of the country’s wealth if it is not being used for the citizens’ well-being or happiness?

    Now, governments are not just looking at the GDP to track the country’s progress. They also look onto metric systems that measure social progress. The Social Progress Index, in particular, measures the extent of countries in providing social and environmental needs for their citizens. It uses fifty-four indicators which are related to basic human needs and well-being.

    While it is not a metric system, the World Happiness Report is an important tracker to consider. Created by the United Nations, this report is a yearly assessment of a country’s level of well-being. It looks into average income, life expectancy, freedom, trust and generosity, and migration as indicators for this level.

    The 2015 version of the Social Progress Index and the World Happiness Report share some interesting results. According to the 2015 report of the Social Progress Index, these countries scored the highest in providing social supports for their citizens:

    • Norway
    • Sweden
    • Switzerland
    • Iceland
    • New Zealand

    On the other hand, the 2015 World Happiness Report crowns these five countries as the best performing in the year:

    •  Switzerland
    • Iceland
    • Denmark
    • Norway
    • Canada

    One can clearly see the similarity between these two reports. Although the Social Progress Index doesn’t report Canada or Denmark in its Top Five, these countries do fall within the Top 10 rankings.

    So why do these countries have such a high level of well-being? Professor John F. Helliwell of the University of British Columbia and editor of the World Happiness Report has this as an answer:

    “Countries with strong social and institutional capital not only support greater well-being but are more resilient to social and economic crises," he says. The World Happiness Report has clearly shown a definite relationship between social norms and institutions, and individual well-being. It is for the same reason that the U.S., the number one economic superpower, falls within the Top 20 rankings.

    According to Michael Green, founder of the Social Progress Index, the main failing of the U.S. is its lack of safety nets. As seen in the long-term trends, the U.S. isn’t putting its best foot in important matters such as healthcare. He stresses that the problem does not particularly lie in inequality or on-going poverty.

    “If you really want to advance social progress, you need to improve the lives of the poorest,” he says.


    Contributed by: Allison Julianne Macasaet, a freelance writer on the side, a student of international relations on the other. Interests include fantasy books, international relations, and lifestyle.