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
Lexile

Good cheer abounds in Naples, Florida. But as a whole, the United States is lagging behind comparably wealthy nations 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, Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland and the Netherlands. Canada, New Zealand, Sweden and Australia also topped the list.

The report evaluates six variables. First is GDP, or gross domestic product per capita. Then comes social support, healthy life expectancy, freedom to make life choices, freedom from corruption and 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,” said Jeffrey D. Sachs, 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. Though most of the bottom ten spots are occupied by African nations, Togo is one of this year’s biggest gainers. The country 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, and 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, 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.”

Filed Under:  
Assigned 45 times
CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
What factors were evaluated to judge happiness in the surveyed countries?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (33)
  • SophiaD-del1
    4/10/2018 - 03:49 p.m.

    Finland is the happiest planet in the world right now. The people in Finland are happy because they have great social support, healthy life expectancy, freedom to make life choices, freedom from corruption and generosity.


    It has other Nordic countries following it and America striking 18th place in world happiness!

  • FranciscoL-del
    4/10/2018 - 04:17 p.m.

    Finland is the happiest country because it has a balanced set of social and institutional supports for better lives.

  • NatalieH-del
    4/10/2018 - 04:22 p.m.

    According to studies, Finland is the world's happiest country. Why? People think its because of it's public services, its support systems, and its tax systems.

  • ZofiaT-del
    4/10/2018 - 04:31 p.m.

    This article is about how researchers say how Finland is the happiest country. Finalds people get their happiness from silly little things like paying taxes, having solid social support systems and good public services. Immigrants also are happy there. They rank their happiness based on how it is like living there.

  • JadeR-del
    4/10/2018 - 04:44 p.m.

    The people that live and reside in Finland are the happiest people in the world because as the text says "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,” said Jeffrey D. Sachs, 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." But in our world, our country, our state, our city, our town we don't seem to be very happy. Thinking about New York and all the people in it, a lot of them don't seem happy. But why? they are very privileged, and have more than most, they have their phones and have the world at their fingertips. I also believe its because we are too privileged and have everything given to us that it gets boring and we want actual connections with people.

  • GabriellaJ-del
    4/10/2018 - 04:48 p.m.

    This article is about the world's happiest countries and why they are overall happier then the U.S. and other competing countries. At the top of the list placed Finland. They are presumed to be the happiest. Not because of their wealth, but because they have better social and institutional support throughout their country. The U.S. ranked 18th. This is likely to do with the fact that three epidemic "diseases" are very common in the U.S. These diseases include obesity, depression, and substance abuse. The countries that ranked the worst were mostly in the same region, the African Nation. They are thought to be the worst because of their constant threat of violence and political instability. These countries face gun violence, terrorist attacks, and many more things daily causing them to live in constant fear and sadness.

  • ReesePratt-del
    4/10/2018 - 05:02 p.m.

    It is so cool that we placed 18

  • AkshayB-del
    4/10/2018 - 05:14 p.m.

    The UN report finds Finland is the happiest country in the world. The surveys asked thousands of people across the globe to place themselves on a ladder with steps numbered from zero to 10. Finland scored an average of 7.632. 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,” said Jeffrey D. A higher value for migrant acceptance was linked to greater happiness among both immigrants and native residents.

  • EvanC-del
    4/10/2018 - 05:36 p.m.

    The surveys asked thousands of people across the globe to place themselves on a ladder with steps numbered from zero to 10. The World Happiness Report is produced by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network. Finland scored an average of 7.632. They must be the happiest people ever. I would love to hang out with them.

  • ChloeR-del
    4/10/2018 - 06:27 p.m.

    This story is about the 2018 World Happiness Report produced by the United Nations. The happiness is measured by a system called the Cantril scale, with 6 main variables such as the GDP, the social support, or freedom from corruption and generosity. The first top 10 happiest countries are mostly from the northern hemisphere and especially from Scandinavia, with Finland as number one. Countries that score the least are mostly in Africa. The report also found a strong link between the level of happiness of a country and the happiness of the migrants living in it. The more a country accepts its migrants well, the happier that country and its migrants are. A general conclusion of the report is that happier countries are not necessarily the richer, but the ones with a strong social support and well balanced institutions for a better life, which explains why Finland, a social democracy, was ranked first this year.

Take the Quiz Leave a comment
ADVERTISEMENT