Israel is the 11th happiest country in the world, coming in three places higher in the 2013 World Happiness Report than in the 2012 when it ranked 14th. The list was the product of a research team including researchers from the London School of Economics, the University of British Columbia and Columbia University's Earth Institute. Drawing on data from the Gallup World Poll, the researches ranked 156 countries.
Northern European countries topped the list. Denmark took first place, followed in happiness by Norway, Switzerland, Holland and Sweden.
The second half of the top 10 includes Canada, Finland, Austria, Iceland and Australia.
Interestingly, the United States only ranked at 17th place, trailing the Untied Arab Emirates (14) and Panama (15). The United Kingdom only managed to come in 22nd, followed by France (25), Germany (26), Russia (68) and Turkey (77).
Among Israel's immediate neighbors, Jordan, in 74th place, ranked highest, followed by Lebanon (97), the Palestinian Territories (113), Egypt (130), and near the bottom of the list, Syria (148).
Following Syria, the last eight places (149 to 156) are all African countries: Comoros, Guinea, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Central African Republic, Benin, and in last place, Togo.
The country compared data from 2010 to 2012. The study said, "The world has become a slightly happier and more generous place over the past five years."
The report noted that an improvement in the quality of life has been "particularly notable Latin America and the Caribbean, while reductions have been the norm in the regions most affected by the financial crisis, Western Europe and other western industrial countries; or by some combination of financial crisis and political and social instability, as in the Middle East and North Africa."
Mental illness was the greatest detractor from happiness, according to the report. "People can be unhappy for many reasons -- from poverty to unemployment to family breakdown to physical illness. But in any particular society, chronic mental illness is a highly influential cause of misery," the report said.
Acknowledging that happiness as a "transient" emotional state and happiness as an evaluative concept (i.e., are you happy with your life?) are two separate concepts, the survey sought to strike a balance between the two types of happiness and "assembled the available international happiness data on how people rate both their emotions and their lives as a whole."
Questions determining "measures of positive emotions (positive affect) including happiness, usually asked about the day preceding the survey; measures of negative emotions (negative affect) again asked about the preceding day; and evaluations of life as a whole" constituted the main elements of so-called "subjective well-being."