Finland has been named the happiest country in the world for the sixth year in a row.
The World Happiness Report — compiled by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, a global initiative of the United Nations — is published annually on 20 March to mark 'International Day of Happiness'.
The study asks respondents to evaluate their life using the mental image of a ladder, with the best possible life for them as a 10 and worst possible as a 0. These life evaluation results are then correlated with various life factors: GDP per capita, social support, healthy life expectancy, freedom, generosity, and corruption.
Once again, all of the Nordic nations performed well in the 2023 report, making up five of the top seven places.
World Happiness Report 2022 rankings
10. New Zealand
The 2023 report also saw Lithuania entering the top 20 for the first time, with the Baltic country having risen more than 30 places since 2017.
The world's most unhappy countries include Lebanon, which has been scarred by conflict and corruption, and Afghanistan, a war-ravaged country now ruled by the Taliban extremists.
The World Happiness Report has also received criticism. The US-based non-profit news organisation The Intercept reported in 2021 that the United Arab Emirates — which has itself been criticised for violating human rights — funded the report with a payment of at least 3 million dollars.
Happiness endures despite years of adversity
The authors of this year's happiness report noted the resilience of humanity despite years of crisis — including the Covid pandemic as well as Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the ensuing energy and cost of living crises.
"This year's report features many interesting insights but one that I find particularly interesting and heartening has to do with pro-sociality," psychology professor and report author Laura Aknin explained. "For a second year, we see that various forms of everyday kindness, such as helping a stranger, donating to charity, and volunteering, are above pre-pandemic levels. Acts of kindness have been shown to both lead to and stem from greater happiness.”
The report also revealed that while Russia's invasion has had a negative impact on the well-being of the Ukrainian people, the level is surprisingly lower than after the Kremlin's 2014 invasion of Crimea. At the same time, mutual trust and unity among Ukrainians has reached record high levels.
"This is thanks in part to the extraordinary rise in fellow feeling across Ukraine as picked up in data on helping strangers and donations – the Russian invasion has forged Ukraine into a nation" according to Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, a Director of the Wellbeing Research Centre at Oxford University.
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