The land of a thousand lakes, Finland, has once again been named the world's happiest country for the sixth year in a row. According to the World Happiness Report, a UN-sponsored index that measures happiness levels across 140 countries, Finland has clinched the top spot, with Denmark and Iceland following closely behind. The study is based on people's own assessment of their happiness levels, as well as economic and social data, resulting in a happiness score on a scale of zero to ten, based on an average over a three-year period.
This year's report also compared people's emotions before and after the Covid-19 pandemic, and concluded that the pandemic had not made us unhappier, with self-reported satisfaction remaining "remarkably resilient" worldwide between 2020 and 2022. In fact, the report found that people self-reported significantly higher levels of benevolence or acts of kindness than before 2020. The study revealed that eight of the top ten happiest nations are located in Europe, with Denmark in second place and Iceland, Israel, and the Netherlands following. The UK dropped two places to 19th on the list, while the US climbed up one spot to 15th.
The report also showed that social support plays a key role in determining happiness levels, with those who reported having someone to rely on in times of trouble reporting higher happiness levels than those who do not. Globally, 80 percent of the survey respondents reported having someone to count on, which was one of the factors that helped boost average life satisfaction during the pandemic years, according to analysts.
Overall, the World Happiness Report found that average happiness and country rankings remained stable during the pandemic years. Positive emotions were twice as prevalent as negative ones, and feelings of positive social support were twice as strong as those of loneliness. Measures of misery across the world also fell slightly during the pandemic years. So, while the Covid-19 pandemic has brought unprecedented challenges and stress, it has not had a significant impact on global happiness levels. Social support and acts of kindness continue to have a significant impact on happiness levels, and countries with strong social support networks continue to dominate the top of the happiness rankings.