Scandinavians may spend a lot of the winter in
darkness but they are the happiest people in Europe, according to a study
released this month.
Countries like Denmark and Finland scored highest on the study of
happiness in Europe carried out by Cambridge University, which also found
that the sunny southern countries of Italy, Portugal and Greece got the
least joy out of life.
The survey entitled: "No Man is an Island" revealed that countries
where people enjoy time with friends and family, have trust in government
and national institutions were more likely to be happy than those living
in a sunny climate.
The study rated respondents on their overall sense of happiness and
life satisfaction on a scale of one to 10.
Danes -- who expressed a high level of trust in their politicians and
public institutions -- came top of the field at 8.3. Italians -- who
reported lower levels of satisfaction with their national quality of
government -- came last at 6.49.
"Italy, Greece, Portugal, Germany and France report the lowest levels
of happiness whereas the Scandinavian Countries, Netherlands and
Luxembourg report the highest," the study said.
Although Europeans are generally four times wealthier than their
fathers and grandfathers, their levels of happiness are either equal to or
lower than 40 years ago.
The study also looked at factors contributing to happiness within
countries and surprisingly found that an interest in politics actually
Lead researcher Luisa Corrado said tax cuts and throwing money at
social problems appeared to have no effect on the happiness of citizens
when compared with government policies which strengthened and supported
wider social networks.
"People are less naive than one would expect, politicians need to
tailor their policies and
target specific problems in specific areas," she said.