Finland was named the Happiest Country in the world for the sixth consecutive year in this year’s World Happiness Report. The report, published annually by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network, ranks countries according to national happiness and reports on specific areas of happiness and well-being. The report was released today in conjunction with the International Day of Happiness.
As has happened throughout the 11 years of publishing the report, Nordic countries ranked high when it comes to happiness, with five of them landing in the top 10. The 10 happiest countries, according to this year’s report, are:
- New Zealand
The United States fared slightly better than it had in 2022, moving up one spot to No. 15, and Canada regained some of its footing, climbing from No. 15 last year to No. 13. However, the United Kingdom dropped two spots from No. 17 in 2022 to No. 19 this year.
Both Ukraine and Russia again landed at the lower end of the rankings, with Ukraine at No. 92 and Russia at No. 70. Report authors noted that Ukraine’s well-being suffered less in 2022 than it did in 2014 when Russia annexed Crimea.
Professor Jan-Emmanuel DeNeve, director of the Wellbeing Research Center at the University of Oxford, notes that while Ukraine has taken a hit in terms of happiness in the wake of the Russian invasion, it has fared better “thanks in part to the extraordinary rise in fellow feelings across Ukraine,” which has been evidenced by the help from strangers and the amount of donations the country has received. “The Russian invasion has forged Ukraine into a nation,” he observes.
Once again, Lebanon and Afghanistan ranked lowest in terms of happiness.
The World Happiness Report relies on six key factors to evaluate happiness: social support, income, health, freedom, generosity and absence of corruption. One significant finding from this year’s report is that levels of life satisfaction around the world have returned to where they were in pre-pandemic years.
“Average happiness and our country rankings, for emotions as well as life evaluations, have been remarkably stable during the three COVID-19 years,” says John F. Helliwell, a professor at the University of British Columbia and editor of the report. “Even during these difficult years, positive emotions have remained twice as prevalent as negative ones, and feelings of positive social support [are] twice as strong as those of loneliness.”
Perhaps related to that widespread return of positive emotions is the report’s findings that, for a second year in a row, acts of everyday kindness have exceeded pre-pandemic levels. That includes such things as helping strangers, donating to charities and volunteering. And that’s significant, according to Professor Lara Aknin, director of the Helping and Happiness Lab of Simon Fraser University. “Acts of kindness have been shown to both lead to and stem from greater happiness,” she says.