Shucks, Finns: Finland tops 2018 global happiness index


"The top five countries all have nearly equally high values for the six factors found to support happiness, and four of these countries - Denmark, Switzerland, Norway and now Finland - have been in first place in the six World Happiness Report rankings since the first report", said report co-editor John Helliwell, a professor emeritus of economics at the University of British Columbia.

The Netherlands came in sixth place this year, followed by Canada, New Zealand, Sweden and Australia.

Unlike past years, the annual report published by the U.N. Sustainable Development Solutions Network also evaluated 117 countries by the happiness and well-being of their immigrants.

The United States dropped to 18th place from last year's 14th.

Although happiness and other squishy subjective experiences such as love are notoriously hard to measure - still, every year The Global Happiness Council sets out to objectively study and quantity happiness levels of various countries around the world.

Finland took top honours in that category too, giving the country a statistical double-gold status.

One central focus of this year's report - besides, you know, happiness in general - was the happiness of the 156 countries' migrant communities.

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John Helliwell, co-editor of the World Happiness Report and professor emeritus of economics at the University of British Columbia, pointed out that all the top ten nations scored highest in both overall happiness and their immigrants' happiness - suggesting that happiness is infectious.

And every year the report reads like a love letter to Scandinavia; this year is no exception.

Meik Wiking, CEO of the Denmark-based Happiness Research Institute, said the five Nordic nations reliably rank high in the index because they "are doing something right in terms of creating good conditions for good lives".

Happiness revealed in the survey comes from healthy amounts of both personal freedom and social security, outweighing "some of the highest taxes in the world", Wiking said to AP. "These countries share a very similar level of GDP per capita, but Finland converts its wealth into wellbeing in a much better way than the United Kingdom", he said.

The results confirm Sachs' prediction who, in presenting last year's report that showed the US drop by one spot in the ranking, said the policy of the then newly-elected President Donald Trump would make things worse for Americans. The nation's lack of light clearly doesn't stop them finding their own rays of sunshine, though, as the Nordic nation has been named the happiest country on Earth.

The report also made note of the "sociopolitical system" in the United States that contribute to higher income inequality, which is a major contributing factor to unhappiness, as well declining "trust, generosity and social support".

"Although immigrants come from countries with very different levels of happiness, their reported life evaluations converge towards those of other residents in their new countries", he said. For both domestic and worldwide migrants, the report studies not just the happiness of the migrants and their host communities, but also of those left behind, whether in the countryside or in the source country.