The United Nations has declared Finland as the world’s happiest nation for the third consecutive year. Researchers for the World Happiness Report asked people in 153 countries to evaluate their levels of happiness by taking into account factors such as GDP, social support, personal freedom, and levels of corruption in each nation.
Finland is followed by Denmark, Switzerland, Iceland, Norway, Netherlands, Sweden, New Zealand and Austria. Luxembourg stepped in to the top 10 for the first time this year at the 10th spot. Canada is ranked 11, Australia at 12 and the United Kingom at 13. The US is in the 18th spot.
India is ranked 144, way lower than its neighbours. Nepal is ranked 15, Pakistan is at the 29, Bangladesh at 107 and Sri Lanka at 130.
“The happiest countries are those where people feel a sense of belonging, where they trust and enjoy each other and their shared institutions,” John Helliwell, on of the authors of the report, said in a statement.
“There is also more resilience, because shared trust reduces the burden of hardships, and thereby lessens the inequality of well-being,” he added.
The countries at the bottom of the list were those affected by violence and extreme poverty. Zimbabwe, South Sudan, and Afghanistan were among those classified as the least happy countries.
Finland’s long dark winters were reputed to be behind high levels of alcoholism and suicide. But its residents enjoy a high quality of life, security and public services, with rates of inequality and poverty.
The data for this year’s World Happiness Report was collected in 2018 and 2019, thus not impacted by the widespread restrictions imposed by many countries to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
However, the authors of the report predicted that the lockdown in many countries could boost happiness in the future.
“The most frequent explanation seems to be that people are pleasantly surprised by the willingness of their neighbours and their institutions to work in harness to help each other,” the team said on the website.