• News
  • People
  • Long Read
  • Opinion
  • Weekend Wrap

Breaking News

Finland racks up sixth consecutive top spot in World Happiness Report

Finland remains the global bastion of happiness, indicates the 11th edition of the increasingly influential World Happiness Report.

Jussi Hellstén

According to the 11th edition of the annual report by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, Finland continues to occupy the top spot with a score that is significantly ahead of all other countries.

The country secured the top spot in the ranking for already the sixth consecutive year, ahead of fellow Nordics Denmark and Iceland. The top 10 was rounded out by Israel, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Switzerland, Luxembourg and New Zealand.

Lithuania, meanwhile, is the only new country in the top 20, having moved up more than 30 spots since 2017.

The World Happiness Report measures subjective wellbeing based on three indicators: life evaluations, positive emotions and negative emotions. The principal source of data for the report is the Gallup World Poll, which asks respondents to evaluate their current life as a whole using the mental image of a ladder, with the best possible life ranked at 10 and the worst at 0.

Positive and negative emotions are measured by asking respondents whether they experienced laugher, enjoyment or interest on the one hand, or worry, sadness or anger on the other the day before the survey.

The Sustainable Solutions Development Network, the UN initiative that produces the World Happiness Report, views that the fact that people continue to experience twice as more positive than negative feelings reflects “remarkable” resilience in the face of overlapping crises.

Harri Tarvainen / Visit Karelia

As the ranking itself is compiled using a three-year average from each country for life evaluations, all the observations are drawn from years of high infection and mortality from COVID-19.

“Even during these difficult years, positive emotions have remained twice as prevalent as negative ones and feelings of social support twice as strong as those of loneliness,” highlighted John Helliwell, professor at the University of British Columbia.

The Sustainable Development Solutions Network viewed that the findings are evidence of “remarkable” resilience among most world populations in the face of overlapping crises.

“For a second year, we see that various forms of everyday kindness, such as helping a stranger, donating to charity and volunteering, are above pre-pandemic levels. Acts of kindness have been shown to both lead to and stem from greater happiness,” commented Lara Aknin, director of the Helping and Happiness Lab of Simon Fraser University.

Finns may not laugh or smile more often than people in other parts of the world, but they enjoy and, judging by the high degree of life satisfaction, appreciate the freedoms and social support provided by the stable and well-functioning society, wrote Business Finland. Happiness, it added, is also a key factor for a favourable business environment.

The World Happiness Report also indicates that happiness and wellbeing have continued to overtake income and gross domestic product as themes of books, newspaper articles, academic research and policy making. Both the EU and the OECD, it points out, call on their member states to “put people and their wellbeing at the heart of policy design”.

“[I]ncreasingly, [people] think of wellbeing as the ultimate good, the summum bonum,” it reads.

“The role of wellbeing in sustainable development is already present, but wellbeing should play a more central role in global diplomacy and in international and national policies in the years to come.”

By: Aleksi Teivainen