In 2000, I moved from Pittsburgh to Charlotte for a job. I stayed, in part, because of the warmer weather. Even though I grew up in Quebec, New York and Pennsylvania, I'm very happy with the milder winters and longer summers of North Carolina. And I know I'm not alone in this thinking. That's why I was so surprised when I saw the U.N.'s 2019 World Happiness Report.
Every year, the U.N Sustainable Development Solutions Network ranks 156 countries based on the happiness of their citizens. Finland is at the top of the list for the second consecutive year. Researchers say the Scandinavian country of 5.5 million offers its citizens a balanced life beyond economic and material wealth. The happiness index is also determined by life expectancy, social support, freedom to make life choices, and government corruption.
It's clear that average temperature does not factor highly in this report because all of the countries in the top ten are what I consider to be cold weather places. Even New Zealand has a long winter season. Of the bottom ten countries on the list, six are in Africa, where the climate is much warmer. This begs the question: Is there a correlation between cold weather and happiness?
By the way, the U.S. came in 19th this year. That's one place down from 2018 and five spots down since 2017. According to the report, substance abuse/addiction and high-use of digital media are two of the reasons for our declining happiness. See the full report here.
Top 10 Happiest Countries
- The Netherlands
- New Zealand