The last few years have been tough for the world, with a global pandemic to contend with on top of the usual economic, political, and social upheaval. This is why the findings from the 2023 World Happiness Report, which lists countries in order of the population's overall happiness, are so interesting. Fascinatingly, many of the most content nations — and even some of the unhappy ones — all share a common feature we didn’t see coming.
The World Happiness Report 2023
The UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network published their report on March 20, 2023. A team of experts measured the general happiness levels of people in 150 countries all over the globe. To do this, they asked life evaluation and emotion-related questions relating to the years 2020 to 2022, and then analyzed how people’s definition of happiness has evolved. It sounds complicated, no? After all, the last three years have been tumultuous for all of us, to say the least.
Happiness levels somehow remain stable
Fascinatingly, it was found that — despite people living through a global pandemic — the happiness scores of many countries didn’t change much. The editor of the report, Professor John Helliwell, told Positive News magazine, “Average happiness and our country rankings, for emotions as well as life evaluations, have been remarkably stable during the Covid years.” Amazingly, some evidence even suggested happiness actually increased.
The Nordic nations rule the roost
When looking at the list of the top 40 happiest countries, something obvious immediately jumps out: Europe’s Nordic region ranks extremely highly. Finland came in at number one for the sixth consecutive year, while Denmark was number two, Iceland third, Sweden sixth, and Norway seventh. But what is it about their countries that makes Scandinavians so gosh darned happy?
Scoring highly on all fronts
Well, as with most countries high on the list, people in the Nordic nations all have very healthy life expectancies and lots of social support from the government. The countries also have strong GDP per capita scores, and many citizens believe there aren’t high levels of corruption in their institutions. They also feel freedom to live their lives the way they want to.