1. ITV Report

It’s official – the UK is getting happier, UN report claims

The UK has become more cheerful since last year according to the UN. Photo: Lewis Stickley/PA

The UK has lifted its spirits to be ranked one of the happiest countries in the world, according to the annual United Nations investigation.

The seventh World Happiness Report placed the UK 15th out of 156 countries surveyed, climbing four places on the previous year’s report.

By contrast, our neighbours in Ireland slipped from 14th to 16th, above the likes of Germany, Belgium and the United States.

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Every year 3,000 people from each country are surveyed on their lives over a two-year period and asked to score their happiness on a 0 to 10 scale.

Although the UK has had an apparent mood boost, the happiest country – for the second year running – is Finland.

Not far behind are Denmark, Norway, Iceland, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Canada all inside the top 10.

At the other end of the list, the report sees South Sudan replacing Burundi as the least happy country, ahead of the Central African Republic and Afghanistan.

The UK climbed four places this year. Credit: Andrew Milligan/PA

The ranking is based on an individual's happiness and separate data on GDP, life expectancy, generosity, social support, freedom and corruption is also included in the report, but does not contribute to the overall happiness ranking.

While the UK beat several countries to its spot on the list, it shows Ireland ranked higher for many of the other categories.

Ireland came in 6th for both social support and GDP compared to the UK who came in 9th and 23rd.

Other areas Ireland ranked higher include healthy life expectancy, 20th compared with 24th, perceived freedom to make life choices, 33rd ahead of the UK's 63rd, and freedom from corruption 10th compared with 15th.

But the UK can claim one of the best generosity rankings around, coming 4th on the list.

Over 70% of UK respondents said they had donated money to charity in the past month.

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The report by the UN also looked at a study from the European Journal of Political Economy from January which identified that people in the UK who were dissatisfied overall were 2.5 percentage points more likely to have voted to leave the European Union.

They noted that the happier a person is in the UK, the more likely they are to vote, with a one-point increase in life satisfaction associated with a 2% increase in the tendency to vote in an upcoming election.