The annual World Happiness Report is here and, while it’s always interesting to see which countries are dubbed the happiest in the world, something particularly fascinating came out of this years report: the top three countries with the happiest populations were led by women. In the fine words of queen Bey, “Who run the world? Girls.”
It’s been more than 10 years since the first-ever World Happiness Report was published and, since then, more and more countries are prioritizing the happiness of its citizens.
This year, the report ranked the happiness of citizens between 2020 and 2022 by looking at six key factors: income, health, generosity, having a person to count on, feeling that you have the freedom to make important decisions and the absence of corruption.
Participants were asked questions about everything from their social support to their community to their trust in the government, and they would rate each question on a scale from 0 (completely dissatisfied) to 10 (completely satisfied).
Where are the happiest countries in the world?
The happiest country in the world in 2023 is Finland, which is led by Prime Minister Sanna Marin. The Scandinavian country has been named the happiest country in the world for six years in a row.
Finland was followed closely by Denmark, led by Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, and Iceland, led by Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir.
Of the other happiest countries in the world, Sweden, New Zealand and Lithuania are all led by women, meaning that five of the top 20 happiest countries in the world have women leaders. This number may seem low, but it’s a ratio that’s far better than the overall number of women leading countries around the world.
How does a population experience high levels of happiness?
According to the report, a population experiences high levels of satisfaction with their lives – which, in turn, results in high levels of happiness – if “its people are also pro-social, healthy and prosperous.”
“In other words,” the report adds, “its people must have high levels of what Aristotle called ‘eudaimonia’ [meaning “good spirit” or “happiness”]. So at the level of the society, life satisfaction and eudaimonia go hand-in-hand.”
How did COVID-19 effect happiness?
Rates of altruism were far higher during the pandemic, according to the report. However, there was also a surge in benevolence around the world. In 2020 and 2021, people were kinder and more giving compared to how they were before the pandemic.
There was also far more social support and positive social connections in 2022. In fact, these qualities were “twice as prevalent as loneliness in seven key countries spanning six global regions.”
How should the government prioritize the happiness of its citizens?
While its great to see that happiness is on the rise, and it’s being prioritized in more countries around the world, how can governments foster a happier environment for its citizens in the future? The World Happiness Report suggests that it all starts with preventing misery.
“To prevent misery, governments and international organizations should establish rights such as those in the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR),” the report details. “They should also broaden Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to consider well-being and environmental policy dimensions jointly in order to ensure the happiness of future generations.”
Then, “once happiness is accepted as the goal of government, this has other profound effects on institutional practices. Health, especially mental health, assumes even more priority, as does the quality of work, family life and community.”
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