Two women sitting on a rock in a forest
 In the World Happiness Report, special attention was paid to daily emotions to evaluate the pandemic’s effect on various aspects of daily life. Image: Victor Engström

Finland retains top spot in global happiness report

Finland has been named the world’s happiest country for the fifth consecutive year in the 10th edition of the World Happiness Report.

Aleksi Teivainen

18.03.2022

The country secured the top spot with a score that was “significantly ahead” of other countries in the top 10: Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Sweden, Norway, Israel and New Zealand.

The Nordics overall were commended for strong social cohesion, excellent balance between family and working life, and free education and healthcare. The authors of the report also viewed that the region merits special attention for their generally high levels of personal and institutional trust, and handling of COVID-19.

The World Happiness Report measures happiness based on three core indicators: the evaluations of respondents of their current life on a scale of 0 to 10, experiences of positive emotions on the previous day and experiences of negative emotions on the previous day. In 2021 and 2022, the report has paid special attention to specific daily emotions to better gauge the pandemic’s effect on various aspects of daily life.

The national ranking is put together based on a three-year average.

“This information is incredibly powerful for understanding the human condition and how to help people, communities and countries work toward happier lives,” stated one of the editors, associate professor Lara Aknin of Simon Fraser University.

The report highlights that the pandemic has brought pain and suffering on the one hand and an increase in social support and benevolence on the other – the latter serving as a reminder of the capacity of individuals to rally to each other’s support in times of need.

“Helping strangers, volunteering and donations in 2021 were strongly up in every part of the world, reaching levels almost 25 per cent above their pre-pandemic prevalence,” told John Helliwell, professor at the University of British Columbia. “This surge of benevolence, which was especially great for the helping of strangers, provides powerful evidence that people respond to help others in need, creating in the process more happiness for the beneficiaries, good examples for others to follow and better lives for themselves.”

War is another unsurprising, major cause of unhappiness, according to the report. People in Afghanistan, for example, evaluated the quality of their lives as 2.4 out of 10.

“This presents a stark reminder of the material and immaterial damage that war does to its many victims and the fundamental importance of peace and stability for human wellbeing,” said Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, the professor in charge of the Wellbeing Research Centre at the Oxford University.

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