Finland is once again the happiest country in the world, according to this year’s World Happiness Report published by the United Nations. Belgium, meanwhile, has dropped two places to 18. The report is based on reporting by the inhabitants of 156 countries and their subjective feelings about living there, as well as data on GDP, life expectancy, social support mechanisms, freedom to make life choices, generosity and corruption in government and business.
This year’s report looks in particular at happiness and social interaction, including topics such as data and online behaviour, addiction and voting trends.
De Standaard quotes economist and co-author of the report, John Helliwell, explaining Finland’s Number One position. “Finns pay high taxes for a social safety net, they trust their government, they live in liberty and they are generous. They care about each other. That’s the kind of place people want to live.”
After Finland at the top of the table there come few surprises: Denmark in second place, followed by Norway, Iceland and the Netherlands. The top ten is completed by Switzerland, Sweden, New Zealand, Canada and Austria.
The UK, Luxembourg and Germany come just before Belgium further down the rankings, two places lower but still just ahead of the United States. The report also includes chapters on addiction and unhappiness in the US, as well as “The sad state of happiness in the US and the role of digital media”.
The unhappiest country in the survey, according to its own people, is South Sudan, at the bottom of the table just behind the Central African Republic, Afghanistan, Tanzania and Rwanda.