It’s Official: New Zealand Is Better Than Australia

It’s Official: New Zealand Is Better Than Australia

The latest World Happiness Report has just been released by the United Nations. The top ten was dominated by Northern Europe, with Norway taking out the top spot. The only countries in the Southern Hemisphere to make the cut were New Zealand and Australia – with the former beating the latter. That’s right: Kiwis are officially happier and have better lives than their Antipodean neighbours.

The World Happiness Report uses six variables to judge human happiness: income, healthy life expectancy, having someone to count on in times of trouble, generosity, freedom and trust (measured by the absence of corruption in business and government). Each nation is then given a score out of ten.

Here are the top ten countries and their respective scores:

  1. Norway (7.537)
  2. Denmark (7.522)
  3. Iceland (7.504)
  4. Switzerland (7.494)
  5. Finland (7.469)
  6. Netherlands (7.377)
  7. Canada (7.316)
  8. New Zealand (7.314)
  9. Australia (7.284)
  10. Sweden (7.284)

Australia and Sweden actually tied for the 9th position, having the same 2014-2016 score to three decimal points. Australia scored well in most areas, but fell down when it came to physical and mental illness. (Apparently, we have a lot of sick people and aren’t looking after them properly.)

The US, meanwhile, came in at 14th (6.993). The UK trailed behind at 19th (6.714).

As you’d probably expect, African nations were among the lowest scoring, with Togo, Rwanda, Syria, Tanzania, Burundi an Central Africa Republic all scoring under 3.5.

You can check out the full list of ranked countries below:

It’s Official: New Zealand Is Better Than Australia

[Via World Happiness Report]


  • What do the colours mean though? Is there a table with that info? That would be a lot more useful.

    • I looked it up for you, so give me a thumbs up:

      Contributions towards happiness:

      light blue – GDP
      yellow – social support
      orange – life expectancy
      dark blue – freedom
      green – generousity
      purple – corruption
      grey – dystopia

      • From the look of it, New Zealand mainly beats Australia in the Green and Orange/Gold categories. Which is ironic.

  • I’d have thought we’d do badly on the perception of corruption one. I for one don’t trust our government 🙁

    Though I guess I trust it more than the US or some of the African or Middle East ones.

  • What is exactly “dystopia” in this context? For example, I find interesting that Costa Rica and Israel would be in the low 30s instead of being 11 and 12th if it weren’t for their extraordinary dystopia values. On the other hand, Singapore, Malta and Qatar would rank in the teens if it weren’t for their low dystopia values. Low dystopia is the reason why Sweeden is 10th instead of 1st-2nd.

    • From the report:

      “Each of these bars is divided into seven segments,
      showing our research efforts to find
      possible sources for the ladder levels. The first
      six sub-bars show how much each of the six key
      variables is calculated to contribute to that
      country’s ladder score, relative to that in a
      hypothetical country called Dystopia, so named
      because it has values equal to the world’s lowest
      national averages for 2014-2016 for each of the
      six key variables used in Table 2.1. We use
      Dystopia as a benchmark against which to
      compare each other country’s performance in
      terms of each of the six factors. This choice of
      benchmark permits every real country to have a
      non-negative contribution from each of the six
      factors. We calculate, based on estimates in
      Table 2.1, that Dystopia had a 2014-2016 ladder
      score equal to 1.85 on the 0 to 10 scale. The final
      sub-bar is the sum of two components: the
      calculated average 2014-2016 life evaluation in
      Dystopia (=1.85) and each country’s own prediction
      error, which measures the extent to which
      life evaluations are higher or lower than predicted
      by our equation in the first column of
      Table 2.1. The residuals are as likely to
      be negative as positive.”

      I don’t really get it (not a statistician) but it looks like it’s basically a factor of how well the country compares against the possible worst case, smaller the bar the worse it does relative to the worst case.

  • Just riddle me this Batman…

    If living in NZ is better than living in Australia, why are there more Kiwis living in Australia than Aussies living in NZ?

  • These reports are junk. Happiness is a feeling inside, not a set of numbers like GDP + social support + life expectancy etc. I have lived in 4 countries and visited a lot more for extended periods. I have met a much higher percentage of clearly happy people in some of the poorest countries. ANZ is middle of the road (not to say they are unhappy, just less open & quite guarded). People in Norway can be downright sullen, I have no idea how anyone could rank them first…

  • I don’t think so. If you’ve experienced the dismal winter weather in Christchurch, you’d wish you were anywhere in Australia. So, so, so grey…

  • Winter weather is not dismal in New Zealand, weather is weather, some people are dismal, and, a cold change from hot, high humidity, energy sapping Summer into Autumn in Queensland would be welcome for many people.
    Not surprising is that roughly 88 percent of the world’s population lives in the Northern Hemisphere.

  • What’s not to like.

    Wonderful, friendly people and arguably the most beautiful country on the planet.

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