The World Happiness Report 2020 ranked 156 countries by how happy their citizens perceive themselves to be. Finland was joined in the top five by the other Nordic countries Denmark, Iceland and Norway. Sweden was seventh.
“The World Happiness Report has proven to be an indispensable tool for policymakers looking to better understand what makes people happy and thereby to promote the wellbeing of their citizenry,” said Jeffrey Sachs. “Time and again we see the reasons for wellbeing include good social support networks, social trust, honest governments, safe environments and healthy lives.”
Four of the six factors used to rank happiness in each country represent different aspects of the social environment: having someone to count on, having a sense of freedom to make key life decisions, generosity and trust. The report also looks at what role inequality plays in a person’s happiness and how good social environments can help to mitigate the effects of inequality.
The Happiness Report also assessed cities by their subjective wellbeing for the first time ever, with Finland’s capital, Helsinki, taking the top spot.
The report then delved into how the social, urban and natural environments combine to affect our happiness. Walking in green spaces makes people happy, it deduced, but especially so if they are with a friend.
“A happy social environment, whether urban or rural, is one where people feel a sense of belonging, where they trust and enjoy each other and their shared institutions,” said John Helliwell. “There is also more resilience, because shared trust reduces the burden of hardships and thereby lessens the inequality of well-being.”
On the national level, the report assessed how factors within our natural environment such as pollution levels, climate and temperatures are significant in determining happiness.