The Atlantic Reports on Iceland Happiness Skip to content

The Atlantic Reports on Iceland Happiness

The Atlantic recently ran an article about Iceland’s ranking as among the world’s happiest nations.

oceanswimming_psPhoto by Páll Stefánsson.

As has been reported in the past, Iceland scores among the happiest nations in the world. The Atlantic recently ran a story on the issue on its online edition.

Iceland currently ranks third on the World Database of Happiness. With Iceland reaching an average value of 8.2 on a scale of 10, only Costa Rica and Denmark score higher.

The author, science writer Robert A. Lavine, asks how Icelanders remain so positive in the face of such harsh conditions, especially during the wintertime. Rates of Seasonal Affective Disorder are lower than expected, Lavine reports.

One possible reason that is often cited is that the traditional Icelandic diet and lifestyle is considered healthy: the high amount of fish eaten, with vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, is believed to have a protective effect against winter depression. Moreover, the unpolluted air and the fresh water in Iceland has a positive effect on human health, and being healthy is considered a primary determiner of happiness.

The healthy lifestyle of Icelanders also has an impact on life expectancy; Iceland has the highest life expectancy in the world. When combined with life satisfaction, that results in the number of “happy life-years”, with Iceland ranking second after Denmark.

Even events like the economic meltdown or natural disasters like the 2010 eruption of Eyjafjallajökull volcano did not show a negative impact on the positive attitude of Icelanders. “The impact of the economic crisis on happiness in Iceland showed almost no decrease in happiness measures from 2007 to 2012,” Dora Guðmundsdóttir, Head of the Division of Determinants of Health in Iceland told The Atlantic.

The reasons for this unshakable happiness are mainly seen in the living conditions in Iceland. The population is very small, which supports a strong sense of community. The country also has one of the lowest crime rates in the world. A high level of trust within community and strong social bonds are believed to be major factors of happiness. Moreover, strong family ties and family-friendly policies in Iceland are believed to have a strong impact on the personal well-being of its citizens.

Even though that indicates that happiness in Iceland is at least partly due to the unique conditions there, it is possible to learn from these findings: Time recently published an article on Iceland having the world’s happiest workplaces and how employers in other countries can adopt some of the practices present in Iceland to ensure their employees are happy.


Sign up for our weekly newsletter

Get news from Iceland, photos, and in-depth stories delivered to your inbox every week!

* indicates required

Subscribe to Iceland Review

In-depth stories and high-quality photography showcasing life in Iceland!

Share article