Which are the happiest countries in the world? And how do we measure that?
While happiness is subjective, there’s a very specific way that these results are calculated.
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The World Happiness Report for 2023 was just released by the UN. This report ranks the happiest countries in the world and the overall state of world happiness.
While happiness is subjective, there’s a very specific way that these results are calculated. The report used data from the Gallup World Poll surveys from 2020 to 2022. Usually, the surveys are based on 1,000 respondents from each country. The results are gathered from over 150 countries around the world. This report is released annually on March 20 for the International Day of Happiness.
These surveys ask respondents specific life evaluation questions. One of these questions is called the “Cantril ladder.” According to the World Happiness Report website, this question “asks respondents to think of a ladder, with the best possible life for them being a 10 and the worst possible life being a 0. They are then asked to rate their own current lives on that 0 to 10 scale.”
For each country, Gallup measures social support, income, health, freedom, generosity and the absence of corruption. Gallup conducts the polls from its Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN). Gallup says: “Leaders need more inclusive metrics to effectively track and lead the progress of their nation. The World Happiness Report is the first report to rank countries by how their populations feel.”
This year’s report shows Finland is the happiest country in the world. It’s held that honor for the past six years. Other Nordic countries also top the list, with Denmark at number two and Iceland in third place.
“Finland seems to excel here because of the Finnish welfare system’s ability to help its citizens feel taken care of,” explains Aalto University lecturer Frank Martela. “Things like relatively generous unemployment benefits and nearly free healthcare help mitigate sources of unhappiness, ensuring that there are fewer people in Finland who are highly unsatisfied with their lives.’’
But we all have reason to celebrate. One of its authors, Lara Aknin, notes: “For a second year, we see that various forms of everyday kindness, such as helping a stranger, donating to charity and volunteering, are above pre-pandemic levels.”