Italy, also the land of good food, trails behind Gulf countries including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Oman, as well as South Korea, Trinidad and Tobago, Chile and Argentina.
Denmark is the happiest country in the world, followed by Norway, Switzerland, The Netherlands and Sweden, according to the report published on Monday by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network and the Earth Institute of Columbia University.
The survey, which ranks 156 countries, is based on a combination of self-declared happiness factors, including health, family, job security and freedom from political oppression and corruption.
Italy’s neighbour France comes in 25th place, just ahead of Germany, while Spain is the 38th happiest country in the world.
The United States ranks 17th, while the UK is 22nd.
European countries that fared worse than Italy include Malta, in 48th place, Greece in 70th and Portugal in 85th.
“There is now a rising worldwide demand that policy be more closely aligned with what really matters to people as they themselves characterize their well-being,” Professor Jeffery Sachs, one of the report’s authors, said in a statement.
“More and more world leaders are talking about the importance of well-being as a guide for their nations and the world,” Sachs said.
The report “offers rich evidence that the systematic measurement and analysis of happiness can teach us a lot about ways to improve the world’s well-being and sustainable development,” he added.