Countries who are highly accepting of gay people, and have very liberal societal attitudes towards homosexuality rank highest in a list of the happiest nations in the world.
The Better Life Index compiled by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) ranks 36 countries according to 11 equally weighted criteria including income levels, health, safety and housing.
Although a nation’s happiness is not measured primarily by support for their LGBT communities, all of the highest ranking countries are accepting of homosexuality, support equal rights and have laws protecting gay people.
Angel Guría, OECD Secretary General, said: ‘Our Better Life Index goes beyond the cold, hard numbers of GDP [Gross Domestic Product] to really get an understanding about what matters for people and about what they want and need out of their lives and their societies.’
As economic growth in many developed nations stagnates, the links between happiness and the sense of community and equality among citizens has been attributed greater significance.
In October 2012, The Guardian’s Robert Skidelsky observed the benefits of equality on a person’s well-being, saying: ‘More equality would not only produce the contentment that flows from more security and better health, but also the satisfaction that flows from having more leisure, more time with family and friends, more respect from one's fellows, and more lifestyle choices.’
Canada, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland and The Netherlands – countries who allow same-sex couples to marry – all rank within the top 10 happiest developed nations.
These nations have also extended the legal privileges pertaining to different-sex relationships to same-sex couples.
Same-sex marriages have also been proposed, passed or are pending in the other top 10 countries; Australia, The United States, Switzerland and the UK.
All of the top 10 countries have legislation in place to protect citizens against discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Australia was named the happiest developed nation in the OECD report for the third year in a row.
Australians are more satisfied with their lives than the OECD average, with 84% of people saying they have more positive experiences in an average day (feelings of rest, pride in accomplishment, enjoyment) than negative ones (pain, worry, sadness, boredom). This figure is higher than the OECD average of 80%.
Guría said: ‘I’m delighted that we continue to update it with new information and in new languages so that we can get a truly global picture of well-being, reflecting people’s preferences and needs, wherever and whomever they are.’
Sweden and Canada came second and third in the list, with Norway, Switzerland, the US, Denmark, Netherlands, Iceland and the UK following in order.