Finland tops World Happiness Report for 4th consecutive year

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March 19 (UPI) — Finland maintained its No. 1 spot as the world’s happiest country in the United Nations’ World Happiness Report released Friday.

For the fourth year in a row, the Nordic country has topped the index, which ranks nearly all nations based on a variety of factors.

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Rounding out the 2020 Top 10, in order, are Iceland, Denmark, Switzerland, Netherlands, Sweden, Germany, Norway, New Zealand and Austria.

The United States came in at No. 14 and its neighbor, Canada, was No. 15.

The 10 least happy countries among the 95 evaluated in 2020 were, from bottom, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Jordan, India, Cambodia, Benin, Myanmar, Namibia, Egypt, and Kenya.

Researchers with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Solutions Network evaluated 95 countries this year and those at the top were found to have high values in six categories of well-being — income, healthy life expectancy, social support, freedom, trust and generosity. The report typically evaluates about 150 countries each year, but the Gallup World Poll — which is heavily relied upon in the evaluations — was unable to conduct face-to-face interviews in many countries due to the pandemic.

The researchers said countries faced challenges over the past year due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on many facets of life. Several countries saw significant drops in their rankings, including the United Arab Emirates (from 19 to 27), Bahrain (from 22 to 35), Malta (from 20 to 37), Mexico (from 23 to 46), El Salvador (from 31 to 61) and the Philippines (from 42 to 74).

“We need urgently to learn from COVID-19,” said Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network.

“The pandemic reminds us of our global environmental threats, the urgent need to cooperate, and the difficulties of achieving cooperation in each country and globally. The World Happiness Report 2021 reminds us that we must aim for wellbeing rather than mere wealth, which will be fleeting indeed if we don’t do a much better job of addressing the challenges of sustainable development.”

The World Happiness Report typically evaluates countries based on three years of data, but this year released a ranking solely for 2020 due to the effects of the pandemic. Based on data from 2018 to 2020, the Top 10 ranking would have been, in order, Finland, Denmark, Switzerland, Iceland, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Austria.