UN report finds Finland is the happiest country in the world A sunny day in Finland, the world’s happiest country in 2018 according to new UN report. (iStock/scanrail/Michael W Andersen/Flickr)
UN report finds Finland is the happiest country in the world
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Good cheer abounds in Naples, Florida. But as a whole, the United States is lagging behind comparably wealthy nations. That's when it comes to its residents’ happiness. The U.S. ranked 18th out of 156 countries surveyed in the World Happiness Report of 2018. The top spot went to Finland. That's according to Maggie Astor reporting for the New York Times.

The World Happiness Report is produced by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network. It draws on data from  Gallup International surveys conducted between 2015 to 2017. The surveys asked thousands of people across the globe to place themselves on a ladder with steps numbered from zero to 10. Ten represents the best possible life. This method is known as the Cantril scale.

Finland scored an average of 7.632. Other Nordic nations also ranked high on the list of happiest countries. After Finland, the top nine spots were occupied by Norway and Denmark. Iceland, Switzerland and the Netherlands followed. Canada, New Zealand, Sweden and Australia also took top spots.

The report evaluates six variables. First is GDP, or gross domestic product per capita. Other factors considered included social support and healthy life expectancy. It included freedom to make life choices and freedom from corruption. Lastly it included generosity. 

Most of the top 10 countries are social democracies. They “believe that what makes people happy is solid social support systems, good public services, and even paying a significant amount in taxes for that.” That's according to Jeffrey D. Sachs. He is director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University. He is an editor of the report. This political philosophy, he adds, is very different from that of the United States.

The economy in America is strong. But its place in the ranking fell four spots from last year’s report. Sachs explained that “America’s subjective wellbeing is being systematically undermined by three interrelated epidemic diseases. These include obesity, substance abuse (especially opioid addiction) and depression.” This is from an interview with Patrick Collinson of the Guardian.

Burundi placed last in the ranking with an average score of 2.905. Second from last was the Central African Republic. Both countries are plagued by political instability and violence. Most of the bottom ten spots are occupied by African nations. But Togo is one of this year’s biggest gainers. It ranked last in 2015, but rose 18 places in the 2018 report.

One of the major themes of this year’s report was the intersection of migration and happiness. Countries were also ranked based on the happiness of their immigrants. Strikingly, the authors of the report found that immigrant happiness scores were almost identical to the scores of the population at large. Finland, for example, also came first in the ranking of immigrant happiness. It was followed by Denmark, Norway and Iceland.

“The closeness of the two rankings shows that the happiness of immigrants depends predominantly on the quality of life where they now live, illustrating a general pattern of convergence,” the authors of the report write.

The authors also considered a Gallup index that measured how accepting countries are of migrants. A higher value for migrant acceptance was linked to greater happiness among both immigrants and native residents “by almost equal amounts,” the report says.

“Happiness can change, and does change, according to the quality of the society in which people live,” the authors of the report add. 

“The countries with the happiest immigrants are not the richest countries, but instead the countries with a more balanced set of social and institutional supports for better lives.”

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
What factors were evaluated to judge happiness in the surveyed countries?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (23)
  • PaolaC-ilc
    4/13/2018 - 08:40 p.m.

    I think, it is quite important the way that United Nations defined the main points to select the happiest country in the world.

    Our country should learn about these countries in order to take advantage of our resources, our people, our strengths, among others.

  • JanethS-ilc
    4/14/2018 - 08:55 a.m.

    Six factors were used to judge happiness: gross domestic product per capita, social support, healthy life expectancy, freedom to make life choices, freedom from corruption, and generosity. In the 2018 report, it was included an intersection between migration and happiness with similar results. The conclusion was that the inhabitants of a country were happier in nations with good social and institutional support even if it implied an important payment of taxes.

  • LissetteS-ilc
    4/14/2018 - 10:01 p.m.

    The factors to evaluate happiness in the countries were the gross domestic product per capita, social support and healthy life expectancy, generosity and freedom. Those factors show that money is not the unique thing to be happy. Due to, the first ten spots are not occupied by richest countries. This ranking should be a strong indicator in order to all governments can make better plans to benefit their societies.

  • GabyR-ilc
    4/14/2018 - 10:37 p.m.

    Seven factors were evaluated to judge happiness in the surveyed countries: gross domestic product per capita, social support, healthy life expectancy, freedom to make decisions, freedom from corruption, generosity and migrant acceptance level. The last factor was one of the most important themes in 2018´s report because a higher value for migrant acceptance shows greater happiness among inmigrants and native people.

  • MabeV-ilc
    4/15/2018 - 06:24 p.m.

    For this survey, the Organization has took in consideration the GDP, social support and healthy life expectancy among other variables. Another factors evaluated were freedom to make life choices and freedom from corruption. This survey also evaluated the happiness of immigrants that strikingly has the same results that native people.
    Nordic nations ranked high on the list of happiest countries. These contries are not the richest around the world but they have an excelent system that supports people to have a better live.

  • JhossyO-ilc
    4/15/2018 - 07:08 p.m.

    I consider that what the UN did was a good idea to determine "happiness". Citizens will live happy as long as they have good services, good health care, and freedom. Also, it is important to mention that happiness is not based on how rich the country is. It is based on how well citizens live.

  • GabyV-ilc
    4/16/2018 - 01:21 a.m.

    The World Happiness Report evaluates some factors as freedom, generosity, corruption, and others. Even though the results are very significant, they should consider more variables. Furthermore, happiness also can be measured by people’s educational level, zero crime rates, and a polluted free environment.

  • ChristianC-ilc
    4/16/2018 - 01:26 a.m.

    First, countries GDP which is a representation of the economy is an important factor. Second and third, social support and life expectancy, which are factors that affect people behavior, are considered necessary for a good quality of life. Fourth and fifth, freedom to make choices and no corruption, which are critical for human rights, make people more susceptible to do business. Finally, generosity is a value that should be taught to improve people’s empathy.

  • JuanFranR-ilc
    4/16/2018 - 07:01 a.m.

    They analyzed the gross domestic product per capita, the social support, the freedom citizens had to made life choices, the freedom from corruption that the country had, and generosity.

  • DianaC-ilc
    4/16/2018 - 12:04 p.m.

    The factors that were evaluated by The World Happiness Report were the gross domestic product per capita, social support, healthy life expectancy,freedom, and generosity.

    They are important factors that all the countries around the world must considerer to make happy their citizens. Pitifully, in Ecuador our government do not worried about our hapinness. The government only wants to earn more money through us.

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