[LIFE ★★]


Happy Danes

(P1) Denmark is the world’s happiest country, according to a report that urges nations to address INEQUALITY and protect the ENVIRONMENT.

(P2) The report, prepared by the SUSTAINABLE Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and the Earth Institute at Columbia University, showed Syria, Afghanistan, and eight sub-Saharan African countries as the 10 least happy places on earth to live.

(P3) The top 10 this year were Denmark, Switzerland, Iceland, Norway, Finland, Canada, Netherlands, New Zealand, Australia, and Sweden. Denmark was in third place last year, behind Switzerland and Iceland.

(P4) The bottom 10 were Madagascar, Tanzania, Liberia, Guinea, Rwanda, Benin, Afghanistan, Togo, Syria, and Burundi.

(P5) The United States came in at 13, the United Kingdom at 23, France at 32, and Italy at 50.

(P6) “There is a very strong message for my country, the United States, which is very rich and has gotten a lot richer over the last 50 years, but has gotten no happier,” said Professor Jeffrey Sachs, head of the SDSN and special advisor to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

(P7) When the differences between countries where people are happy and those where they are not can be measured and analyzed, “we can understand the reasons and do something about them,” said Sachs.

(P8) “The message for the United States is clear. For a society that just chases money, we are chasing the wrong things. Our SOCIAL FABRIC is DETERIORATING, social trust is deteriorating, faith in government is deteriorating,” he said.

(P9) The report, now in its fourth edition, ranks 157 countries by happiness levels using factors such as per capita GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT (GDP) and healthy years of LIFE EXPECTANCY.

(P10) It also rates freedom from CORRUPTION in government and business.

(P11) “When countries pursue economic development to the NEGLECT of social and environmental objectives, the results can be ADVERSE for human WELL-BEING, even dangerous for survival,” it said.

(P12) “Many countries in recent years have achieved economic growth at the cost of sharply rising inequality, social exclusion, and grave damage to the natural environment.”

(P13) The first report was issued in 2012 to support a U.N. meeting on happiness and well-being. Five countries – Bhutan, Ecuador, Scotland, United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela – now have appointed Ministers of Happiness charged with PROMOTING happiness as a goal of public policy.

(P14) The 2016 survey showed that three countries in particular, Ireland, Iceland and Japan, were able to maintain their happiness levels despite difficulties, because of social support and SOLIDARITY.

(P15) Sachs pointed to Costa Rica, which came in 14th and ahead of many wealthier countries, as an example of a healthy, happy society although it is not an economic POWERHOUSE.

WORDS: 433



If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.

  1. Briefly summarize the content of the article in your own words.
  2. How happy is your country?
  3. In your opinion, what are the most important contributors to happiness?
  4. Is “chasing money” a strong PRIORITY for people in your country?
  5. Many people around the world think that the U.S. is the best place to live, but many people in the U.S. don’t think so. What do you think?


What do the following expressions mean? Practice using each expression in a sentence; extra points if you can use it in conversation.

  • Social fabric
  • Gross Domestic Product (GDP)
  • Life expectancy
  • Well-being

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