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Who are the world's most 'satisfied' citizens?

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The world's most satisfied people live predominantly in Nordic countries, according to one of many tidbits of information found in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's Society at a Glance 2014 report.

The OECD report, released Tuesday, highlights the social impact of the global financial crisis and measures everything from income inequality and social spending to life expectancy and suicide rates. Data on life satisfaction comes from the Gallup World poll, which is conducted in more than 150 countries and is based on a common questionnaire translated into the predominant languages of each country. 

The poll asks respondents to "Imagine an eleven-rung ladder where the bottom (0) represents the worst possible life for you and the top (10) represents the best possible life for you. On which step of the ladder do you feel you personally stand at present time?"

Four of the top five "satisfied" countries are Nordic, while continental Western and Eastern European OECD members are not particularly satisfied with their lives, the report says.  

 
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Curiously, citizens living in the top four most-satisfied countries (Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Sweden) actually saw an increase in "satisfaction" between 2007 and 2012—the period in which most countries grappled with a global financial crisis that led to a credit freeze, rampant unemployment and insolvency. Other countries that experienced a boost in satisfaction during this troubled time include Austria, Israel, Mexico, Germany, Chile, Slovenia, Korea, Estonia, Brazil, China and Russia. 

Not surprisingly, folks living in Italy, Portugal, Greece and Spain—some of the countries that took big hits during the recession—saw their life satisfaction fall during the same 2007 to 2012 period. 

 
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Thumbnail photo: NASA Goddard

— By on March 18, 2014, 12:27 PM PST

Kirsten Korosec

Contributing Editor

Kirsten Korosec has written for Technology Review, Marketing News, The Hill, BNET and Bloomberg News. She holds a degree from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. She is based in Tucson, Arizona. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure