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18
March
2022

Finland crowned world’s happiest nation for fifth year

Finland has been named the happiest country in the world for the fifth year in a row, in an annual UN-sponsored index that again ranked Afghanistan the unhappiest, closely followed by Lebanon.

Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania recorded the largest increases in well-being. The biggest drops in the global happiness chart, released on Friday, were in Lebanon, Venezuela and Afghanistan.

Lebanon, facing economic collapse, fell to second-bottom in the 146-nation index, just below Zimbabwe.

War-traumatized Afghanistan, already at the bottom of the table, has seen its humanitarian crisis deepen since the Taliban seized power again last August.

The UN agency UNICEF estimates that one million children under the age of five could starve to death this winter if they do not receive help.

“This (index) presents a stark reminder of the material and immaterial damage that war causes to its many victims,” said co-author Jan-Emmanuel De Neve.

The World Happiness Report, now in its tenth year, is based on people’s own assessment of happiness, as well as economic and social data.

Assign a happiness score on a scale of zero to 10, based on an average of data over a three-year period. This last edition was completed before the Russian invasion of the Ukraine.

Northern Europeans once again dominated the top spots, with the Danes second behind the Finns, followed by the Icelanders, the Swiss and the Dutch.

The United States moved up three places to 16th, one ahead of Britain, while France moved up to 20th, its highest ranking yet.

In addition to a personal sense of well-being, according to Gallup polls in each country, the happiness score takes into account GDP, social support, personal freedom, and levels of corruption.

This year, the authors also used social media data to compare people’s emotions before and after the Covid-19 pandemic. They found “strong increases in anxiety and sadness” in 18 countries, but a drop in feelings of anger

“The lesson of the World Happiness Report over the years is that social support, mutual generosity, and honesty in government are crucial to well-being,” wrote report co-author Jeffrey Sachs.

“World leaders should pay attention.”

The report surprised some when it first placed Finland at the top of its listings in 2018.

Many of the Nordic country’s 5.5 million people describe themselves as morose and prone to melancholy, and admit to looking askance at public displays of joy.

But the country of vast forests and lakes is also known for its well-functioning public services, ubiquitous saunas, widespread trust in authority, and low levels of crime and inequality.

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