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Scandinavians top happiness poll, Mediterraneans least content April 17, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Lifestyle.

Denmark is the happiest nation in Europe, according to research published in Britain Tuesday, which ranks Scandinavians and the Irish top for contentment and Mediterraneans at the bottom.

Danes rated their national average happiness at 8.31 out of 10, with Finns second at 8.05, the Irish third at 7.98, Swedes fourth at 7.84 and the Dutch fifth at 7.78.

But at the other end of the scale, Greece ranked 13th with 6.79, Portugal 14th at 6.53 and Italy 15th at 6.27.

Researchers from Cambridge University’s economics department analysed responses from 20,000 people in the European Union’s 15 countries in 2004. They then cross-referenced their results with a separate study to find out the causes of happiness.

“The survey shows that trust in society is very, very important,” said Luisa Corrado, who led the research. “The countries that scored highest for happiness also reported the highest levels of trust in their governments, laws and each other.” She added that governments trying to improve happiness levels in their countries should do more than focus on creating wealth. “Our well-being would be more likely to flourish in a mutually supportive and trusting society,” she said.

In general terms, the research showed women were happier than men, while the old and the young were more content than middle-aged people. Denmark and Finland topped the poll despite their historically high suicide rates.

The number of people taking their own lives in Denmark was the highest in western Europe during the 1980s but has more than halved in recent years, with researchers crediting better availability of counselling and anti-depressants. Suicides are also declining in Finland for similar reasons, although the number of alcohol-related deaths is still on the up.

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