Finland is the happiest country in the world for the second consecutive year, by United Nations report on happiness.
The International The World Happiness Report, published Wednesday, puts a total of 156 countries in order of happiness.
The results are based on the average of the results of the surveys carried out in the previous three years. Although questionnaires are not organized in all countries every year.
From the point of view of Finland, the result is encouraging.
Finland will continue to be at the top of the list, further increasing the difference compared to the following. According to the study, Finland is now the happiest country in the world with a significant difference.
Finland’s happiness curve has been mild but steady since 2014.
As usual, the Nordic countries are doing well on the list. Compared to last year, Austria ranked Australia among the ten happiest countries (in brackets the country’s ranking last year):
country’s ranking last year
• Finland (1)• Denmark (3)• Norway (2)• Iceland (4th)• Netherlands (6)• Switzerland (5)• Sweden (9th)• New Zealand (8th)• Canada (7)• Austria (12)
We Finns reacted the same way as we have reacted to other top rankings in various international comparisons. We criticized the methodology of the study, questioned its conclusions and pointed to the shortcomings of Finnish society.
It’s not the first time something like this has happened. When the World Economic Forum ranked Finland as the most competitive economy in Europe in 2014. The chief executive of the Finnish Chamber of Commerce, Risto Penttilä, felt obliged to write an opinion piece for the Financial Times where he tried to prove that the results couldn’t be right.
This time it is my duty
As a Finnish expert on well-being research, to explain why the happiness of the Finns has been greatly exaggerated.
More particularly, I’ll argue that there are four separate ways to measure happiness. And depending on which one we choose, we get completely different countries at the top of the rankings. I’ll also argue that Finnish people’s aversion to happiness might paradoxically make them happier.
So, how did the World Happiness Report measure happiness? The study asked people in 156 countries to “value their lives today on a 0 to 10 scale, with the worst possible life as a 0 and the best possible life as a 10.”.
This is most used measure for the life satisfaction. And we know that societal factors such as gross domestic product per capita, extensiveness of social services, freedom from oppression, and trust in government and fellow citizens can explain a significant proportion of people’s average life satisfaction in a country.
In these measures the Nordic countries—Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Iceland—tend to score highest in the world. Accordingly, it is no surprise that every time we measure life satisfaction, these countries are consistently in the top 10.
But when you look at how much positive emotion people experience, the top of the world looks very different. Suddenly, Latin American countries such as Paraguay, Guatemala and Costa Rica are the happiest countries on earth.
Finland is far from the top, which should not surprise anybody who is aware of the reputation of Finns as people who don’t display their emotions.
Things get even more complicated when we look at the prevalence of depression in different countries. In one comparison made by the World Health Organization, the per capita prevalence of unipolar depressive disorders is highest in the world in the United States. Among Western countries, Finland is number two. Paradoxically then, the same country can be high on both life satisfaction and depression. While there are significant shortcomings in international comparisons of depression and while other research has estimated that the depression rates of Finland would be closer to the global average, what is clear is that Finland is far from the top of the world in preventing depression.
So while Finland might be good at keeping the average life satisfaction levels high, those at risk for depression might not get enough social support to cope with their low mood. Maybe that’s why Finland has the highest number of heavy metal bands per capita in the world.
Finally, some people might argue that neither life satisfaction, positive emotions nor absence of depression are enough for happiness. Any something more is required: Just experience one’s life as meaningful.
Looking 132 different countries, based on whether people felt that, African (Togo, Senegal) were at the top of the ranking, while the U.S. and Finland were far behind.
Here, religiosity might play a role: The wealthier countries tend to be less religious on average.
What I’m trying to say is that. With regards to happiness, it’s enigmatic. Different people define happiness in a very different way.
And the same person can be on top of a dimension of happiness while in a lower dimension of happiness.
Perhaps there is no happiness as such.
Instead we should look at these separately and examine how well the nations are able to support each of them.
Meanwhile, the greatest human migration in history – the hundreds of millions of people who have moved from the Chinese countryside into cities and other from different country(warm) West-Europe, Brasil, Argentina, South-America, Africa, India, Turkey, Australian … – has not advanced happiness at all, the report found.