‘The Dutch are a happy people’

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This article is part of the RNW archive. RNW is the former Radio Netherlands Worldwide or Wereldomroep, which was founded as the Dutch international public broadcaster in 1947. In 2011, the Dutch government decided to cut funding and shift RNW from the ministry of Education, Culture and Science to the ministry of Foreign Affairs. More information about RNW Media’s current activities can be found at https://www.rnw.org/about-rnw-media.

The Netherlands ranks fourth on a list of the world’s most contented nations.

The list, drawn up by three economists, was published on the eve of a UN conference on happiness. Economists John Helliwell, Richard Layard and Jeffrey Sachs analysed a series of studies and surveys conducted in the past few years. The three researchers used a number of parameters including income, freedom, trust in the government and life expectancy.

The happiest country on the face of the planet is Denmark, followed by fellow-Scandinavian nations Finland and Norway. Next on the list are the Netherlands, Canada, Switzerland, Sweden, New Zealand, Austria and Ireland. The world’s least happy nation – according to the researchers, is the African nation of Togo.

The UN conference on happiness is chaired by Bhutan, a nation which measures quality of life by its Gross Domestic Happiness. The Gross Domestic Product is regarded as less important.

The Netherlands’ fourth position on the list may come as a surprise in view of the current economic recession and the accompanying rise in unemployment and poverty.


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