Heikki Saukkomaa/Lehtikuva/AFP via Getty Images
The annual rankings of the World Happiness Report remain remarkably stable Despite the ongoing effects of the pandemic worldwide.
Finland again ranked the happiest according to people’s self-rating of their lives on a scale of zero to 10, with zero being the worst possible life that could be expected, and 10 being the best.
Finland’s neighbors, Denmark, Iceland, Sweden, and Norway, all ranked in the top ten.
The United States saw a slight rise in its ranking from last year, from 19th to 16th.
As Planet Money explained in a 2019 interview with economist John Helliwell, one of the report’s editors, two of the biggest factors in people’s ratings for their lives are their income and social support—”someone they can count on in times of trouble,” Helliwell said.
Reports of stress were higher during the pandemic years. People also said they were more generous with their time and money last year; They were also more thoughtful towards strangers.
A Nordic sweep near the top of the happiness list might not be all that it seems. A Finnish writer argued in Slate That Scandinavia’s happiness ratings are not a result of the country’s sterling quality of life, but because people in those countries have a lower standard of what they think their lives would have been like.
“In keeping with their Lutheran heritage, the Nordic nations are united in their embrace of repressed aspirations,” Jukka Savolainen wrote. “People are socially made to believe that what they have is as good as it is — or close enough.”
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