Finally! Finland Leads the World Happiness Report for the 7th Time – Can You Guess Which Other Nordic Countries Made the Top 7?!

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Since 2018, the UN World Happiness Report has found that Finland is the happiest country in the world. How does happiness happen? And where can you take a happiness masterclass?

The International Day of Happiness takes place annually on March 20, accompanied by the World Happiness Report, a publication of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network. In 2024, Finland occupies the top spot on the report’s list of the happiest countries in the world for the seventh time in a row.

The other Nordic countries usually join Finland in the top ten – this year, they are all in the top seven: Denmark is second, Iceland third, Sweden fourth and Norway seventh.

Life evaluations

For seventh year running, Finland is first in World Happiness Report – other Nordics in top 7

Enjoying life: These strange mounds and windows are part of Amos Rex, a museum of contemporary art in Helsinki and a great place to hang out.Photo: Aleksi Poutanen/Helsinki Partners

The 158-page World Happiness Report and the International Day of Happiness offer a chance to discuss the foundations of happiness and how to nurture it. In more ways than one, this may also provide a counterweight to unhappy news about climate change and war.

The report compares the answers to one of the more than 100 questions in the Gallup World Poll. The question is: On a scale of zero to ten, where do you place your own life (with zero being the worst possible life and ten being the best possible life)?

The answers, called “life evaluations” by the authors of the report, provide a measurement of people’s contentedness with life. The report uses an average of the three most recent years to arrive at its list of the happiest countries.

This year’s edition further divides the happiness listings into four age groups for comparison. In Finland, Denmark, Sweden and Norway, the oldest age group (60-plus) was happier than the others, and the youngest (under 30) was the least happy.

The authors also try to identify general “predictors” of happiness, including GDP per capita, healthy life expectancy at birth, social support (having people you can count on if you’re in trouble), freedom to make life choices, generosity (whether or not people donate to charity) and perception of corruption (in government and business).

Infrastructure of happiness

For seventh year running, Finland is first in World Happiness Report – other Nordics in top 7

A window lets the light in for readers at Helsinki University’s main library. All levels of education in Finland are free or charge only very nominal fees.Photo: Linda Tammisto/Helsinki Partners

Finland and the other Nordic countries are strong in those predictor categories and in other aspects of society that contribute to happiness. (Many of them are included in the box about international comparisons, at the end of this article.) Finland has fostered an infrastructure of happiness, constructing and maintaining the culture and the social institutions that form the basis and framework for individuals and communities to build their happiness.

Happiness doesn’t just – happen. Countries can take steps to encourage it. Research shows life satisfaction correlates with a well-functioning society that provides healthcare, social security and labour market access.

If we zoom out for a wider perspective, we can see that happiness should be a policy goal. Finland has a multiparty system with room for numerous different platforms, but you can still say that happiness is one of the overall policy goals.

On a more individual level, even readers who are not government policy makers can go to the Find Your Inner Finn website, run by ThisisFINLAND’s friends over at Visit Finland. It offers a five-part masterclass in the “Finnish happy lifestyle,” complete with video lessons, tasks for further study and a Master of Happiness certificate.

A related campaign, Helsinki Happiness Hacks (until April 4, 2024), invites readers to participate and apply for a chance to visit Helsinki and “master your happiness like a Helsinkian,” in June 2024.

Happiness starts early

For seventh year running, Finland is first in World Happiness Report – other Nordics in top 7

Kids play in a snowy park in the central western Finnish city of Tampere.Photo: Laura Vanzo/Visit Tampere

Democracy and good governance, which play pivotal roles in the infrastructure of happiness, are grounded on transparency; accountability; impartiality; rule of law; full protection of human rights, including those of minorities; absence of political violence; and lack of corruption.

Free and fair elections are covered by independent media outlets for a population that possesses a great deal of media literacy.

Finnish society is built on trust, and trust is based on openness – freedom of communication and information, as well as opportunities for citizens and civil society to get involved in improving society. High levels of trust and freedom contribute to Finnish happiness.

By the same token, fairness and equality are important elements of happiness, and of Finnish society. Equality means not only gender equality, but also an equal start to life, made feasible by free prenatal care for mothers and generous paid parental leave. It also means equal access throughout life to education and healthcare, both of which are free or charge only very nominal fees.

The nature of happiness

For seventh year running, Finland is first in World Happiness Report – other Nordics in top 7

Even in Helsinki, you’re never far from a park or a patch of forest.Photo: Susanna Lehto/Visit Finland

Last but not least, nature is always nearby in Finland. Even in urban areas, you’re never more than a ten-minute walk from a park or forest. Unspoiled nature has been shown to contribute to wellbeing and happiness.

Back in 2012, the first World Happiness Report linked nature to happiness. It defined “sustainable development” as a combination of environmental sustainability, social inclusion and human wellbeing. The authors then wrote, “The quest for happiness is intimately linked to the quest for sustainable development.”

The subsequent editions of the report have researched happiness from all sorts of angles, but the gist has remained the same. And if you’re seeking a recipe for happiness, that definition of sustainable development is still a good place to start.

Finland’s place in the world

Finland’s repeated success in the World Happiness Report stems from factors that also show up in other reports, indexes and international comparisons. At the time of writing, according to various organisations and surveys, Finland is:

  • the most transparent country in the world
  • one of the world’s most stable countries
  • one of the world’s least corrupt countries
  • first in governance
  • first in political and civil freedom
  • fifth in press freedom (joined in the top five by three of the other four Nordic countries)
  • second in gender equality (joined in the top five by three of the other four Nordic countries)
  • second in children’s rights
  • second in education
  • first in the Sustainable Development Report
  • fourth in EU and OECD Social Justice Index
  • first in the European Media Literacy Index (joined in the top five by three of the other four Nordic countries)
  • …and the Finnish capital, Helsinki, is third in the world in the Work-Life Balance Index.

By ThisisFINLAND staff, March 2024

Source: finland.fi

14 Comments
  1. EmmaSmith97 says

    How does happiness actually happen? Is there a specific formula for it or is it different for everyone?

    1. JamesBrown82 says

      Happiness can manifest differently for each individual, as it is a deeply personal experience influenced by various factors such as life circumstances, relationships, and mindset. While there may not be a one-size-fits-all formula for happiness, cultivating gratitude, connecting with others, and pursuing activities that bring joy can contribute to overall well-being and contentment.

  2. EmmaLovesTraveling says

    As a fan of the Nordic countries, I’m thrilled to see Finland lead the World Happiness Report for the 7th time! It truly shows the importance of well-being and contentment in society. Can’t wait to explore how happiness happens and perhaps even take a happiness masterclass!

  3. MiaJohnson says

    I believe that the World Happiness Report truly reflects the positive quality of life in the Nordic countries. It’s inspiring to see Finland leading the list for the 7th time in a row, showing that happiness is not just a fleeting emotion but a sustainable state of being. This is a great reminder to focus on what truly matters in life and to cherish the moments that bring joy and fulfillment.

  4. Amanda_Cheerful says

    As someone who has always believed in the importance of happiness, it’s no surprise to see Finland leading the way in the World Happiness Report once again! It’s inspiring to see how the Nordic countries consistently prioritize well-being and quality of life. Let’s all strive to learn from their example and spread more positivity in the world!

  5. SarahSmith_23 says

    Can you recommend any specific resources for learning more about the happiness masterclass mentioned in the article?

    1. TomJohnson_87 says

      Sure! For those interested in delving deeper into the happiness masterclass mentioned in the article, I recommend checking out the official website of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network. There you can find detailed information about upcoming classes and workshops dedicated to exploring the foundations of happiness and well-being.

  6. EmmaSmith123 says

    Which Nordic countries, besides Finland, made it to the top 7 happiest countries this year?

    1. JohnDoe92 says

      Denmark, Iceland, Sweden, and Norway ranked among the top 7 happiest countries this year along with Finland. The Nordic countries seem to have a secret recipe for happiness!

  7. AvaSmith23 says

    How does happiness really happen? Can you suggest where to take a happiness masterclass? Is it available online?

    1. MichaelJohnson76 says

      Happiness happens when we prioritize self-care, gratitude, and meaningful connections in our lives. As for happiness masterclasses, you can find them both in-person and online. Online platforms like Coursera and Udemy offer courses on happiness and well-being. Remember, true happiness starts from within!

  8. EmilyJourney says

    As an advocate for mental well-being, I truly believe that Finland’s consistent ranking as the happiest country reflects the importance of prioritizing happiness in our lives. The Nordic countries setting such a positive example is truly inspiring and emphasizes the value of fostering a culture of well-being and contentment.

  9. Anita2021 says

    I believe that Finland’s consistent ranking as the happiest country in the world truly reflects the importance of overall well-being and societal support systems in contributing to individual happiness. It’s inspiring to see where Nordic countries stand in promoting happiness and quality of life for their citizens.

  10. EmmaSmith123 says

    As a Finn, I’m not surprised at all that Finland once again leads the World Happiness Report! Our focus on work-life balance and connection to nature truly makes a difference. It’s great to see other Nordic countries like Denmark, Iceland, Sweden, and Norway also ranking high. Let’s all learn to prioritize happiness and well-being in our lives!

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