Israel has retained its spot as the 11th happiest country in the world for the fifth year running, according to the United Nations’ annual “World Happiness Report,” published Wednesday. The Palestinian Territories came in 104th place, Lebanon in 88th, Jordan in 90th and Syria in 150th in the listing of 156 countries.
The report, which also for the first time evaluated 117 countries by the happiness and well-being of their immigrants, notes that Jews who immigrated to Israel from the former Soviet Union have much better lives than before they immigrated, even though they still have problems. It ranks Israel 12th on its list for “happiness for the foreign born.”
However, it also places Israel, which turns 70 in May, among the countries that are less tolerant of migrants, and that do not accept migrants openly.
Israel’s overall No. 11 position was helped by its health system; the report placed the Jewish state in sixth position for improvement in life expectancy, after Japan, Iceland, Italy, Switzerland and Canada.
In the US, by contrast, life expectancy was 4.3 lower than the average of these top five countries, and that gap “likely widened further in 2016 in view of the absolute decline in US life expectancy.”
On tolerance towards newcomers, the document found that while the least accepting countries were those in Europe that have been directly affected by the recent migrant crisis, four were in the Middle East and North Africa — among them Israel, Egypt, Iraq and Jordan. The others were in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Myanmar, Thailand and Mongolia.
Surveying 156 countries on the basis of factors such as citizens’ freedom, gross domestic product, expenditure on health and lack of corruption, the annual survey placed Scandinavian countries at the top. Fans of skiing, saunas and Santa Claus would not be surprised to hear Finland is the happiest place to live.