Well, it may not be Canada, but we do rank very highly for happiness, even when compared with other wealthy, developed nations. This according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s annual study of international quality of life.

On criteria such as wealth, health, work and education, Canadians continue to rank much higher than the residents of most other developed countries around the world.

Canadians have among the best healthcare in the world, and we are considered the second safest country to live in. (Japan takes the top spot.) This could explain why we live longer too. According to the report, life expectancy in Canada is 81 years, a year higher than the OECD average of 80 years. (Women continue to outlive men with an average life expectancy of 83 years, compared with just 78 for men.)

When it comes to employment, over 72% of Canadians between the ages of 15 and 64 have a paid job, which is well above the OECD employment average of just 66%. Here the men fared better than women with 74% of them in paid work, versus 69% of women.

Canadians also work fewer hours than average. We work roughly 1,702 hours a year, which is less than most people in the study who end up working 1,749 hours. Despite this, we still end up earning an average of $5,000 more per year than the average person in the 36 country study. (And in further proof that money can’t buy happiness, Americans ranked the highest of all countries for household wealth, but still failed to crack the top ten list of people with a the highest overall life satisfaction.)

Perhaps Canadians manage to work less and earn more than most because we’re so well educated. In this country, 88% of adults surveyed have earned at least a high-school degree, more than 10% above the OECD average of 74%. Canadian women are more educated than the men here. The study shows that 89% of women had at least graduated high school compared with 86% of men. We have the 7th highest employment rate and the 5th highest rate of educational attainment of the 36 countries surveyed.  

For the Life Satisfaction score, participants were asked to rate their overall happiness on a scale of 0 to 10. Canadians make the top ten list of happiest people. (We’re tied for fourth with Australia, Israel, and Finland.) The Americans just miss the cut, coming in at number 11. The Danes are the happiest.

The top ten countries for overall happiness:


Life satisfaction score: 7.3/10


Life satisfaction score: 7.3/10


Life satisfaction score: 7.4/10


Life satisfaction score: 7.4/10


Life satisfaction score: 7.4/10


Life satisfaction score: 7.4/10


Life satisfaction score: 7.5/10


Life satisfaction score: 7.5/10


Life satisfaction score: 7.6/10


Life satisfaction score: 7.8/10


Peter Harris