Countries with Lowest Stress Levels

Stress affects every country to some degree.

Countries with lowest stress levels tend to have lower rates of unemployment, pollution, and violence, and higher rates of affordable medical care and strong family values.

Statistics on Countries with Lowest Stress Levels

According to the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), the following percentages of residents in each of the countries report the highest level of satisfaction with their present life.

  1. Denmark: 91.1
  2. Finland: 85.9
  3. Netherlands: 85.1
  4. Sweden: 82.7
  5. Ireland: 81.1
  6. Canada: 78.0
  7. Switzerland: 77.4
  8. New Zealand: 76.7
  9. Norway: 76.5
  10. Belgium: 76.3

The OECD states that a combination of factors likely account for a country's overall satisfaction rates, including economic health, low unemployment rates, family and community networks, and work-life balance.

What Contributes to a Nation's Stress Level?

Numerous factors contribute to a nation's stress level. Residents of countries with lowest stress levels report less worry over economics, health, employment, and violence than residents of countries with higher stress levels.

Economics

Both personal and national economic conditions play a large role in stress rates. Stress levels drastically increase during times of economic downturn. Worry over financial matters, fears of losing employment, and daily struggles to afford basic needs affect both individuals and entire nations.

A 2005 Grant Thornton International Business Owners Survey polled more than 6,000 business owners in 24 countries to determine whether their stress rates were affected by the recent global economical changes. More than half of respondents in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Mexico, Turkey, India, Philippines, Japan, and Russia expressed a significant rise in stress levels. Thirty percent or less of respondents in Italy, Canada, Netherlands, and Sweden reported significant increases, with 34 percent of American business owners claiming a significant increase in stress levels.

Employment

High unemployment rates, low paying jobs, or overwhelming workloads all contribute to a nation's stress level. Working too little or too much is a common source of stress around the globe. Interestingly, some countries with the highest unemployment rates report lower stress levels than those with moderate or low unemployment rates. Societal expectations may play a role in determining job-related stress.

Family Support

Lack of extended family support hits women the hardest, but it increases stress levels in both genders. People with a deep family support network typically report lower stress levels than those without extended family nearby. Cultures that promote family support of the elderly and encourage family traditions and activities tend to have lower stress rates.

Pollution

Smog, noise, crowding, and poor sanitation can all increase stress levels. Long-term exposure to air pollution has detrimental effects on a nation's population, negatively affecting health, happiness, and life expectancy. Noisy and crowded conditions increase stress and decrease contentment.

Medical Services

Lack of or insufficient medical care can significantly increase personal and national stress rates. Those most affected by this stressor are the elderly and families with small children. After examining health and environmental statistics for all nations, Forbes.com states that Iceland, Sweden, and Finland are the world's healthiest countries.

Risk Level

Risk or fear of personal harm due to war, community violence, or other causes is a leading cause of high personal stress levels. Even when not directly affected by violence, individuals may experience increased levels of stress during times of national war or political unrest.

Living Conditions

Unclean, unsafe, or overcrowded living conditions raise stress levels in some people. However, some cultures report lower stress levels when sharing housing with family and friends.

Lowering National Stress Levels

Every nation should consider lowering stress rates a priority. Chronic stress leads to health problems, reduced life expectancy, increased community violence, and overall unhappiness. By considering the qualities of countries with lowest stress levels, other nations can improve life-satisfaction for their residents.

Countries with Lowest Stress Levels