Finland is the happiest country in the world for the 6th consecutive year

Finland remains in the top position of the World Happiness Report in 2023 for the sixth year in a row. Afghanistan and Lebanon remain the two unhappiest countries in the survey.

Finland remains the happiest country in the world for the sixth year in a row, according to the World Happiness Report 2023 published by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network on March 20.

With a satisfaction level of 7.804 on a scale of 0 to 10 for 2020-2022, Finland’s happiness is significantly higher than in other countries. However, it has slightly decreased for the second consecutive year after six years of increase.

The report draws conclusions based on global survey data from people evaluating their lives in more than 150 countries. Countries are ranked on happiness based on their average life evaluations over the three preceding years, in this case 2020 to 2022.

Countries in the top 20 tend to remain the same year after year, but Lithuania has been a new entrant, pushing France from the 20th to 21st position. Lithuania has been up by more than 30 places since 2017, an improvement that can be seen as part of a more general Baltic phenomenon with Estonia and Latvia’s life evaluations strongly increasing over the past few years. Happiness in Central and Eastern Europe has been increasing and converging towards Western European levels.

While these years are marked by the COVID-19 pandemic, global happiness has not been affected overall and remained the same in 2020-2022 compared to 2017-2019. As foreseen last year and confirmed in this year’s report covering even more the COVID-19 pandemic, acts of benevolence – helping strangers, volunteering, and donations – sharply increased during this period.

RankCountryAverage life evaluation
10New Zealand7.213
133Congo, Democratic Republic of3.207
135Sierra Leone3.138
Ranking of Happiness based on a three-year-average 2020–2022. Life evaluation is on a range of 0 to 10 Source: World Happiness Report 2023

Only two countries in the top 10, Israel and New Zealand, are not in Europe. Australia is 12th, Canada 13th, and the United States 15th. Israel moved up to the 4th rank from the 9th position last year. Palestine is 99th with an average life evaluation of 4.908.

India ranks 126th with a score of 4.036, while China is number 64, although there is no survey information for China in 2022 and the results are based on the 2020 and 2021 surveys.

Finland’s neighbors are the happiest countries in the world and Nordic countries all score very well for both happiness and equality. Generally speaking, countries, where average life satisfaction is highest are also where happiness is more equally distributed, with fewer citizens having relatively low life satisfaction.

However, the happiness gap is small in Afghanistan and Lebanon, the two unhappiest countries worldwide. Almost everyone is unhappy.

Northern European countries perform very well in happiness scores because of their societal and institutional characteristics. High gross domestic product per capita and healthy life expectancy, freedom to make critical life decisions, the absence of corruption, social support (having people to count on), and personal generosity all play decisive roles in contributing to someone’s happiness.

Virtuous behaviors usually raise the happiness level of the actor and the beneficiary. But many of them, including carers, may still be unsatisfied with their lives. Institutions also have a role in ensuring happiness in a nation, by reducing misery for instance, according to the report.

And the report considers Nordic countries also merit special attention in light of their generally high levels of personal and institutional trust, a key point in dealing with adversity – including illness, unemployment, discrimination – and crises like the COVID-19 pandemic. Individuals with high social and institutional trust levels were happier than those living in less trusting and trustworthy environments.

Nevertheless, the data provide further evidence that life evaluations respond to significant changes in life circumstances.

With the war in Ukraine, confidence in their national governments grew in 2022 in both Ukraine and Russia, but much more in Ukraine than in Russia. But in 2022, life evaluations fell by about three-quarters of a point, a significant drop on a 0-to-10-point scale, across Ukraine because of the invasion of Russia.

In 2014, the year of the annexation of Crimea by Russia, happiness in Ukraine decreased by more than one point, while rising by half that much in Russia. Life evaluation improved over the years in Ukraine to come close to Russia’s in 2021. But 2022 showed a drop in Ukraine and an increase in Russia. The feeling of worry evaluated in the report has been unaffected in Russia in 2022.

Average life evaluations in Ukraine and Russia over the years
Average life evaluations in Ukraine and Russia over the years | © World Happiness Report 2023

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