Finland Again is the Happiest Country in the World


Finland again takes the top spot as the happiest country in the world according to three years of surveys taken by Gallup from 2016-2018.

The World Happiness Report 2019, which ranks 156 countries by how happy their citizens perceive themselves to be, according to their evaluations of their own lives, was launched recently at the United Nations. The report was produced in partnership with The Ernesto Illy Foundation.

The Report analyses how life evaluations and emotions have evolved since the Gallup World Poll, commenced in 2005-2006.

Gallup surveyed 151,000 adults in more than 140 countries in 2018 to generate the findings. From the survey questions, Gallup generated two indices, one focusing on positive experiences and the other focusing on negative experiences.

For the positive experience index, Latin American countries again registered the top scores. Scores ranged from high scores of 85 in Panamaand Paraguay to a low of 43 in Afghanistan. Paraguay has topped the Gallup survey since 2015 while Afghanistan finished at the bottom for the second consecutive year.

The report highlights, when you factor in population growth, world happiness has fallen in recent years, driven by the sustained downward trend in India. As for emotions, there has been a widespread recent upward trend in negative affect. That comprises worry, sadness and anger, specifically in Asia and Africa, and more recently elsewhere.

In the report, Professor Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network focuses on the epidemic of addictions and unhappiness in America, a rich country yet one where happiness has been declining rather than rising.

“This year’s report provides sobering evidence of how addictions are causing considerable unhappiness and depression in the US,” Sachs said. “Addictions come in many forms, from substance abuse to gambling to digital media. The compulsive pursuit of substance abuse and addictive behaviours is causing severe unhappiness. Government, business, and communities should use these indicators to set new policies aimed at overcoming these sources of unhappiness.”

In the United States, 55% of adults surveyed said they were stressed, a figure nearly as high as in Greece, which topped that list and where 59% of respondents reported experiencing that emotion in the past day. Additionally, 45% of Americans reported being worried and 22% reported being angry, both up from the year before.

So, it would seem that affluence is not buying happiness. This was the question that formed the basis of an allied study also conducted in 2018 by researchers at Purdue University and the University of Virginia. Researchers found a "satiation point" at which household incomes stop generating more happiness. That satiation point varies depending on where in the world people live, according to the study, published in the academic journal Nature Human Behaviour. Globally, the researchers found satiation occurs at $95,000 in annual household income for life evaluations and $60,000-$75,000 for emotional well-being.

Lastly, if you’re interested the rest of the top ten countries ranked among the happiest remains largely unchanged from previous years. They are in order: Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Netherlands, Switzerland, Sweden, New Zealand, Canada and Austria.

Sadly, Australia has moved down two places to 11th since 2016. The first time we haven’t been in the top ten since Gallup commenced reporting its happiness index.