It may seem strange to think about countries being “happy” when most of the world is struggling with the coronavirus, but last week, researchers released a yearly report which ranked the world’s countries by how happy they are.
The report was created by many different researchers, and was released by a group from the United Nations called the Sustainable Development Solutions Network.
To get an idea of how happy people are, the researchers told people to imagine life as a ladder. The worst possible life would be on step 0. The best possible life would be step 10. Then the researchers asked people where they were on the ladder.
They asked this question of 1,000 people in 156 different countries over the last three years.
For the third year in a row, the report named Finland as the world’s happiest country. This time Finland was even farther ahead of other countries than it was last time. Filling out the top five countries were Denmark, Switzerland, Iceland and Norway.
To help explain the results, the researchers looked at several important areas, such as how much money people make, how long they live, how free they are, how much support they get from the government and the people around them, and whether the government is seen as honest.
Clearly the kind of happiness that is being measured by the report isn’t just about laughing, smiling, and telling jokes. It’s more about how satisfied people are with their lives.
The report suggests that when people live in a place where they trust other people and the government, they are more likely to be happy. The report’s authors describe these as “high-trust” countries.
Countries in northern Europe, like Finland, Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, have always led the happiness results, since the report was first started in 2012. They are all fairly rich countries, but the governments also have strong programs to support their citizens.
As countries around the world face the massive challenges brought by the coronavirus, the report’s authors note that happiness doesn’t always disappear during difficult times.
In fact, in high-trust areas, disasters can often leave people with a surprising good feeling as they pull together to help solve the problems they face.
Below is a list of the report’s 20 happiest countries.
8. New Zealand
13. United Kingdom
15. Costa Rica
18. United States
19. Czech Republic