Finland retains title as world’s happiest country for seventh consecutive year; U.S. and Germany drop out of top 20

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Finland has once again clinched the title of the happiest country in the world, maintaining its top position for the seventh consecutive year. The latest World Happiness Report, released on Wednesday, also sees its Nordic neighbors Sweden, Denmark, and Iceland securing spots in the top 10, showcasing the region’s consistent high levels of well-being.

While these countries bask in contentment, the report highlights a concerning trend of increasing unhappiness, particularly among the youth, in some Western nations. This has led to countries like the United States and Germany slipping out of the top 20 for the first time in over a decade.

In a surprising turn, Costa Rica and Kuwait have surged in the rankings, claiming spots 12 and 13 respectively. Meanwhile, Serbia, Bulgaria, and Latvia have seen the most significant boosts in happiness levels among Eastern European nations.

At the other end of the spectrum, Afghanistan, grappling with a dire humanitarian crisis following the Taliban’s resurgence in 2020, remains rooted to the bottom of the list.

The survey, which involves participants from 143 countries and territories, assesses life satisfaction on a scale from zero to 10, considering various factors like GDP per capita, social support, healthy life expectancy, freedom, generosity, and corruption.

The report’s release coincides with the International Day of Happiness on March 20. Previous studies on well-being often suggested that happiness peaks during childhood and early teenage years, dips during middle age, and rises again in retirement. However, recent findings indicate that in some countries, younger generations are reporting higher levels of loneliness compared to older age groups.

Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, an economics professor at the University of Oxford and one of the report’s editors, attributes the increasing unhappiness among Western youth to several factors. These include the adverse effects of social media, heightened social issue polarization, and economic disparities that make it more challenging for young people to attain homeownership compared to previous generations. However, this trend is notably absent in Finland.

According to Jennifer De Paola, a happiness researcher at the University of Helsinki, Finland’s exceptional happiness ratings are attributed to its society’s strong emphasis on nature, a healthy work-life balance, and a sense of trust, freedom, and autonomy. Finland’s robust welfare system, trust in governmental institutions, low levels of corruption, and provision of free healthcare and education are also cited as crucial factors contributing to its citizens’ well-being.

Furthermore, De Paola suggests that Finns have a more realistic view of what constitutes a successful life, in contrast to societies like the United States, where success is often equated with financial prosperity.

(Source: Bloomberg | DW | Times of Israel | Daily Mail)

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