Finland Retains Its Position as the Happiest Country in the World for the Sixth Year Running on the International Day of Happiness
Finland, the “land of the midnight sun” has been named the happiest country in the world for the sixth consecutive year in the annual ranking of the World Happiness Report. The Nordic nation has once again taken the top spot, with Denmark in second place and Iceland in third. The ranking was based on the average life evaluations of 137 countries between 2020 and 2022 using six key factors to help rank the countries.
The United States is ranked 15th on the list, while Afghanistan and Lebanon are considered the least happy places.
The report published three years after the pandemic began, surveyed 137 countries, and found that there was a global surge of “benevolence” in 2020, particularly in 2021. Countries trying to stop the community transmission of the coronavirus had lower death rates and better well-being overall.
The UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, the organization behind the report, uses six key factors to help rank these 137 countries based on their average life evaluations between 2020-2022:
- GDP Per Capita (Gross Domestic Product, or how much each country produces, divided by the number of people in the country. GDP per capita gives information about the size of the economy and how the economy is performing.)
- Social Support (Social support, or having someone to count on in times of trouble.)
- Healthy Life Expectancy (Subjective well-being is strongly linked to mental health, which also plays a crucial role as a risk factor for future physical health and longevity. The impact of mental health is evident in individual choices, behaviors, and outcomes.)
- Freedom To Make Life Choices (This also includes Human Rights. Human rights are inherent to all people, regardless of their race, sex, nationality, ethnicity, religion, or status. These rights include freedom of choice and encompass the right to life, liberty, and many others.)
- Generosity (A clear marker for a sense of positive community engagement and a central way that humans connect with each other. Research shows that in all cultures, starting in early childhood, people are drawn to behaviours which benefit other people.)
- Perception of Corruption (“Is corruption widespread throughout the government or not” and “Is corruption widespread within businesses or not?” Do people trust their governments and have trust in the benevolence of others?)
The report examines the happiness gap between the top and bottom halves of the population in each country ranked. This year’s ranking is similar to those in the past, with the same Nordic countries taking the top three spots.
Top 10 happiest countries in the world in 2023
- New Zealand
Denmark’s high ranking is thanks in part to the level of equality in the country and the country’s sense of responsibility for social welfare, according to the country’s official website. People living in Denmark pay some of the world’s highest taxes—up to half of their income—but that is balanced by the fact that most healthcare in the country is free, university students pay no tuition and receive a grant to help cover expenses while studying, childcare is subsidized, and the elderly receive pensions and are provided with care helpers.
Iceland, the most sparsely populated country in Europe, is also among the happiest in the world, thanks to the country’s attitude towards relying on others and the fact that residents have a strong sense of community.
Finland is offering a free “masterclass of happiness” to help travellers find their “inner Finn,” sharing its wisdom with the world. Expert coaches will guide the participants through four key themes: nature and lifestyle, health and balance, design and everyday, and food and well-being.
The United States ranks 15th and the United Kingdom ranks 19th in the World Happiness Report 2023. Meanwhile, Zimbabwe, Sierra Leone, Lebanon, and Afghanistan are the least happy countries according to the report, with Afghanistan being the unhappiest out of the 137 nations surveyed. The unhappiness in these countries can be attributed to factors such as high levels of corruption and low life expectancy.
Lithuania is the only new country in the top Twenty.
Ukraine’s ranking improved from 98 to 92 in the World Happiness Report of 2023, which is surprising considering the Russian invasion. However, an increase in acts of kindness was reported in Ukraine, leading to a rise in benevolence in 2022.
Meanwhile, benevolence decreased in Russia. The report also highlights a stronger sense of benevolence, common purpose, and trust in Ukrainian leadership. Despite ongoing conflict, both countries rank with 70th and 92nd, respectively, with Ukraine experiencing a sharp rise in benevolence while it declined in Russia in 2022.
Israel’s 2023 fourth-place ranking, up from ninth last year, is its highest position since the UN-sponsored index began publication in 2012.
In conclusion, Finland’s status as the happiest country in the world for the sixth year in a row indicates that happiness is not necessarily determined by material possessions, but rather by a sense of well-being, which is influenced by the factors used to rank the countries. This recognition could provide insight for other countries seeking to improve the happiness and well-being of their citizens.