23 March 2020 14:35
I'm guessing its citizens are feeling as uneasy as the rest of us right now, but Finland has been named the happiest country in the world for the third year in a row - and Wellington the third happiest city. As strange as it may seem to release a report on happy countries and cities during a global pandemic, the United Nations' 2020 World Happiness Report shows it might actually be a good time to take a few tips from those at the top of the table. Nordic nations fared exceptionally well as usual: Denmark emerged the second happiest country, while Iceland, Norway and Sweden all made the top 10. But the report, which ranked 156 countries based on how happy their citizens believe themselves to be, shows that outwardly happy people - and those who best express their emotions - are not necessarily the most satisfied with their lives. "When newspapers declared Denmark the happiest country on earth in 2012, 2013, and 2016, Norway in 2017, and Finland in 2018 and 2019, many citizens of these countries were taken by surprise, because they held much more melancholic self-images," the report says.
One of the key secrets to Finns' and other Nordic citizens' happiness, the report suggests, is that they feel they live in a place where people trust and look out for each other. "High levels of social trust seem to make people's wellbeing more resilient to various national crises," the report states when examining why the Nordic countries have consistently made the top 10 since the first World Happiness Report in 2013. SUPPLIED Nordic countrys' generous welfare benefits may help explain citizens' happiness, the report authors say. The Kiwi capital was named the third happiest city in the world after Helsinki in Finland and Aarhus in Denmark. Comparing urban and rural environments, the report found that city dwellers tend to be happier than the average citizen, but that having friends and a sense of community was a strong indicator of happiness wherever you were.
Helsinki in Finland has been ranked on top, followed by Aarhus — Denmark, Wellington — New Zealand, Zurich — Switzerland, Copenhagen — Denmark and Bergen — Norway. The report ranks countries by how happy their citizens perceive themselves to be according to six key variables: GDP per capita, social support, healthy life expectancy, freedom to make life choices, generosity, and freedom from corruption. Finland nabbed the top spot for the third year in a row, followed by Denmark, Switzerland, Iceland, and Norway rounding out the top five. Countries ranked according to the UN World Happiness Report 2020 In addition to the country rankings, the report also – for the first time –ranked cities around the world by their subjective well-being. The happiest city in the world, according to the report, is Helsinki, the capital of Finland (surprise!) with the Danish city of Aarhus coming in second.
The remaining countries in the top 10 are Norway, the Netherlands, Sweden, New Zealand and Austria followed by top-10 newcomer Luxembourg In addition to the country rankings, the World Happiness Report 2020, for the first time, has ranked cities around the world according to subjective wellbeing. The report shows that in general the happiness ranking of cities is almost identical to that of the countries in which they are located. Filling out the rest of the top ten are Aarhus, Denmark (2nd); Wellington, New Zealand (3rd); Zurich, Switzerland (4th); Copenhagen, Denmark (5th); Bergen, Norway (6th); Oslo, Norway (7th); Tel Aviv, Israel (8th); Stockholm, Sweden (9th), and Brisbane, Australia (10th). Above those are Port-au-Prince, Haiti (183rd); Juba, South Sudan (182nd); Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (181st); Delhi, India (180th); Maseru, Lesotho (179th); Bangui, CAR (178th), and Cairo in Egypt. Helliwell of the University of British Columbia, who co-edited the report, said: 'A happy social environment, whether urban or rural, is one where people feel a sense of belonging, where they trust and enjoy each other and their shared institutions. Tel Aviv and Zurich (4th) were the only top 10 cities not located in either the Nordic countries, Australia or New Zealand. Jeffrey Sachs, director of Sustainable Development Solutions Network and the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University."Time and again we see the reasons for well-being include good social support networks, social trust, honest governments, safe environments and healthy lives."The happiest countries worldwide were Finland, Denmark and Switzerland, the report found. At the opposite end of the 153-country spectrum, Afghanistan, South Sudan and Zimbabwe were named the least happy nations. Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, director of the Wellbeing Research Center at the University of Oxford."But this urban happiness advantage evaporates and sometimes turns negative for cities in high-income countries, suggesting that the search for happiness may well be more fruitful when looking to live in more rural areas."