Once again and for the 2nd year in a row, Finland, with a population of 5.5. million has topped all other countries in the world and was pronounced the happiest country to live in 2019, taking into consideration the stability, safety, and governance. The research was conducted by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network among 156 countries.
In this research, apart from the above stated factors, the focus was also on income, freedom, trust, health, life expectancy and more. The second and third place was taken by Denmark and Norway. Scandinavian countries in general have reported low corruption and high social progress. Therefore, the way people perceive their police, for example, is as the most trusted institution, while their banks are marked as the most reliable. Researchers have explained that the key to the Finish happiness is in the way they look at their collective wellbeing. Finland has some of the highest taxes in the world, while its GDP per capita is lower than in their neighboring countries and way lower than in the US. However, the Finns believe that the taxes they pay are actually an investment that eventually converts into wealth. And for them, wealth is perceived as the high quality of life. By investing in free healthcare and education, they are into long-term project of building healthy, educated and diverse society.
The research relies heavily on self-reported wellbeing. Since we have seen how Scandinavians see their societies, we cannot help but ask: how do Americans see their country?
The latest reports show that the US which ranked at position 19, as the largest economy, is struggling with obesity, substance abuse and depression. The US has always expressed tendencies toward the top of the list. However, a slight decline is visible, although the US still has one of the highest GDPs per capita. So, what makes Americans unhappy?
According to Jeffrey Sachs, director of Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University in New York, the main reasons for slipping to the 19th position are decreased trust in the government and society in general, as well as the obvious decline of health conditions. Reportedly, America is facing an increase in addictive behavior, junk food consumption being at the top of the list. Unhealthy eating habits are followed by extensive shopping expenses, depression and the abuse of opioid drugs.
What this research has showed us is that the overall economy indicators are not always corresponding to the prevailing sentiment in one society, and they do not necessarily corelate with an individual’s quality of life. The predictions are that some of the non-material factors would prevail in the future when self-reports on wellbeing are concerned. People tend to put the following in their focus: social support, freedom, fairness.