And the Happiest Country in the World Is ...

And the Happiest Country in the World Is ...

How do you measure happiness?

If you're the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, you use a metric created from a combination of housing, income, jobs, community and seven other data points.

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The O.E.C.D. releases an annual report on the happiness for 34 of the world's most industrialized countries, according to this system. The organization calls it the Better Life Index. You may remember that last year, the Better Life Index indicated that while Americans had the highest average household wealth, we didn't have the corresponding first place in average happiness.

But the Better Life Index isn't a straightforward ranking. It's actually an interactive tool that shuffles rankings according to the weight you assign to each of the factors on the organization's website. With equal weight given to all 11 factors, this year's top 10 happiest nations are the following:

  1. Australia
  2. Sweden
  3. Canada
  4. Norway
  5. Switzerland
  6. United States
  7. Denmark
  8. The Netherlands
  9. Iceland
  10. United Kingdom

In the middle of pack, the U.S. is in good company among the top 10 countries. We do well in income, safety and health, but lag behind most developed countries in civic engagement, life satisfaction and work-life balance.

Australia, the happiest country on average based on this year's data, has high marks in civic engagement and life satisfaction, though it trails the U.S. in income by a wide margin. Australia ranks 14th in income out of 34 developed countries while the U.S. leads the category.

So again, money can't buy the top spot in the happiness rankings, at least according to how the O.E.C.D. measures it.

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