Finland has been named the world’s happiest country for the fifth year in a row, according to an annual report, with fellow Nordic countries also continuing to rank highly.
The United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network’s 10th World Happiness Report, published Friday, found that Finland’s score was “significantly ahead” of other countries in the top 10.
Denmark remained in second place, followed by Iceland, while Sweden and Norway occupied the seventh and eighth spots on the list, respectively.
The rankings are based on how the 146 countries on the list scored in the Gallup World Poll between 2019 and 2021. The scoring covers factors such as gross domestic product per capita and social support, as well as how a country’s citizens gauge their freedom to make life choices and generosity.
In fact, the report noted a global upsurge in benevolence in 2021, amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
John Helliwell, a professor at the University of British Columbia who helped edit the report, said there had been a “remarkable worldwide growth” in the three acts of kindness measured by the Gallup World Poll: helping strangers, volunteering and donations. People were doing all three nearly 25% more than before the pandemic, he pointed out.
Indeed, although this data was collected prior to Russia’s attack on Ukraine, the crisis has seen many people from neighboring countries eager to help Ukrainian refugees fleeing the war.
The report also highlighted that Nordic countries tended to demonstrate higher levels of personal and institutional trust, and were generally better at handling the coronavirus pandemic. For instance, there were 27 deaths per 100,000 people from Covid-19 in Nordic countries in 2020 and 2021, compared to 80 in the rest of Western Europe.
However, the report also noted the divide between Sweden, which chose not to impose full social-distancing restrictions at the onset of the pandemic, and the rest of the Nordic countries. Covid death rates were five times higher in Sweden, at 75 per 100,000, than in the rest of the Nordic countries, at 15 per 100,000.
This edition of the World Happiness Report also attempted to use the data to shed light on the “often-overlooked and under-appreciated” factor of balance and harmony. Once again, people in Nordic countries, in particular, were found to experience higher levels of balance and harmony.