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Israel named 11th happiest country in the world for 5th straight year

Israelis spray water at each other during a fun water fight event at Rabin square in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 2, 2010.
AP Photo/Ariel Schalit
Israel has not fallen below 14th in the history of the report, which first came out in 2012

For the fifth year in a row, Israel has been listed as the 11th happiest country in the world, according to the United Nations’ annual “World Happiness Report,” which was released on Wednesday.

Israel has not fallen below 14th in the history of the report, which first came out in 2012. It held that spot during the inaugural edition, and has maintained its spot as the 11th happiest country ever since.

During a radio interview recently with US talk-show host Mark Levin, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pointed out Israel’s constant high rating on the report.

“And people say, well, ‘How can that be? Must be a fluke,’ but it keeps going up and they say, ‘How can it be?” Netanyahu said. “It’s a country in this horrible neighborhood, you’ve got terrorism, you’ve got radical Islam, you’ve got challenges,’ but it comes up ahead of most countries in the world.”

Israel ranked higher on the UN report than any of its surrounding neighbors, ahead of Lebanon (88th), Jordan (90th), the Palestinian Territories (104th), Egypt (122nd) and Syria (150th). 156 countries were ranked in the report, based on factors such as citizens’ freedom, gross domestic product, expenditure on health and lack of corruption.

In his interview, Netanyahu went on imply that citizens of Israel, including its younger denizens, are typically satisfied with their lives due to policies he implemented.

“They say, ‘Yeah, but that’s the old timers, they are already fixed, their lives are okay, but that’s the old people, what about the young people? You know where they [the youth] come up [on the index]? Number five! Which means they have a real confidence in the future, and that’s because I think they appreciate and… I know that’s what drives me and animates me: How to ensure that the Jewish state has a permanent future of security and prosperity… and peace if we can get it. The people of Israel I think do identify that," he said.

“So the answer is I think they do understand. All of them? No. Most of them, yes.”

Israel’s position as the 11th happiest country might have been aided by its health system, which ranks sixth in improvement to life expectancy. In 2000, the average life expectancy for someone in Israel was 69.7 years. Fifteen years later, that number has increased by more than 3 years.

For the first time, the report measured 117 countries based on the happiness of immigrants. When measuring for the happiness and well-being of foreign-born citizens, Israel came in 12th. The report particularly noted that Jews from the former Soviet Union considered themselves happier after they immigrated to Israel.

However, the report mentions that Israel, overall, is one of the least-accepting countries of migrants, alongside countries like Egypt, Iraq and Jordan.

AP Photo /Oded Balilty, File

The report, edited by noted economists John F. Helliwell, Richard Layard and Jeffrey D. Sachs, listed Finland as the happiest country in the world, followed by Nordic neighbors Norway, Denmark and Iceland. A fifth Nordic country, Sweden, was ranked as the 9th happiest country.

The rest of the top 10 was rounded out by Switzerland (5th), the Netherlands (6th), Canada (7th), New Zealand (8th) and Australia (10th).

The United States fell this year by 4 spots, becoming the 18th happiest country in the world. The report listed several reasons for this decline.

“The US is in the midst of a complex and worsening public health crisis, involving epidemics of obesity, opioid addiction, and major depressive disorder that are all remarkable by global standards,” the report said.

The report also made note of the “sociopolitical system” in the United States that contribute to higher income inequality, which is a major contributing factor to unhappiness, as well declining “trust, generosity and social support.”


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