The Happiest Nation in the World




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Video (First 6:00)






Now Finland has been named the world’s happiest nation for a seventh straight year. The UN-backed World Happiness Report looks at life satisfaction in 143 countries and territories across the globe.

Denmark, Sweden, and Iceland also continue to top the leaderboard, coming second, third, and fourth place.

But this year, there has been a significant slide down the rankings for Germany and the United States, mainly due to the gloomy outlook of younger people.


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If you’re looking for good cheer, you’ll likely find it here — in Finland, the world’s happiest nation for the seventh year.

You’d be forgiven for thinking there must be something in the water, but researchers put it down to Finns’ own life satisfaction, as well as social support, health, life expectancy, freedom, generosity, and GDP.

Jennifer De Paola, Researcher in Social Science: “Finnish people are most probably happier because they can rely on a good institution, meaning a well-functioning government, low levels of corruption, and a robust welfare system.”

Factors that Finns have a great appreciation for.

Finnish Person, One: “Well, I think I have had the opportunities to do what I want. I have a good education. I can raise my child here quite safely, I think.

So, that is maybe the most important thing for me right now.”

Finnish Person, Two: “We are, for now, a welfare state, and that we have quite strong equality here.

But this is, of course, something that, for example, our current government is trying to run down. So, I think this is something that we would really need to fight to still keep.”

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Such appreciation may be in shorter supply in the United States and Germany, which aren’t among the happiest nations, ranking 23rd and 24th respectively.

Germany is also one of the countries in which older people are now happier than those under 30.

Afghanistan is at the bottom of the table amid a humanitarian crisis after the Taliban regained control.

But goodwill remains universal. The report found that in our post-COVID world, acts of kindness are on the rise across the generations, giving us all something to smile about.

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Frank Martella is an assistant professor at Alto University in Finland. He’s an expert on happiness and well-being research and a philosopher.

Journalist: “Welcome to DW, Frank. Thanks so much for joining us today. Now, your country’s been crowned the happiest in the world for the seventh consecutive year. So, I’m presuming you must be feeling quite happy right now.”

Frank Martela, Happiness Researcher, Aalto University, Finland: “I guess like that’s true. But I guess the Finnish people, the first time that Finland was crowned the happiest nation, Finnish people were not happy, actually.

They were quite much saying that there must be something wrong with the survey because, I guess, like the Finnish people don’t think of themselves as a particularly happy bunch of people. We have, like, this melancholic, quiet self-image, and being the happiest didn’t fit with that.”

Journalist: “Okay. But we heard in that report, didn’t we? People saying, you know, ‘I can do everything that I want to do. We live in a welfare state. I can bring up my child here without worrying.’ So, obviously, there’s a lot of factors in Finland that seem to work and make people feel good.”

Frank Martela, Happiness Researcher, Aalto University, Finland: “Yes, exactly. And I’m kind of saying that it’s not that the government would make citizens happy . . . but it’s more that the well-functioning government is able to remove many sources of unhappiness.

So, it means that, you know, there’s less extremely unhappy people in Finland. And that’s quite much due to the well-functioning institution and the government taking care of the citizens.”

Journalist: “Okay. How can we be sure, though, that all the findings in this report are valid? Because, of course, many of the factors that influence our happiness can vary, can change from day to day, can’t they?

I mean, you know, maybe you’ve slept well or you’re in love, or whether you’ve missed the bus. I mean, how accurate is all of this?”

Frank Martela, Happiness Researcher, Aalto University, Finland: “So, I guess, like, of course, on an individual level, there’s like this daily variation. But that’s the point that because of that, they, like, survey more than a thousand people in every country. So, all of these individual variations would balance each other out.

And through that, we get like this national average, which, of course, there’s always going to be. It’s not going to be perfect. There’s always going to be some margin of error.

But still, it gives a pretty accurate picture of how well the people are doing in a certain country.”

Journalist: “Okay. Now, one point the report does make is that young people in the US and in Western Europe are increasingly unhappy, whereas in other parts of the world, the opposite is true. So, how would you explain those regional differences?”

Frank Martela, Happiness Researcher, Aalto University, Finland: “Yeah, that’s an interesting finding. And it might be the case that in many countries, like, the future looks better than it used to be, that you feel that, you know, the young people feel that they’re going to have a better life than their parents.

But I guess in the US and in many Western European countries, that’s not the case for the young people. They actually feel that they might not have as good an outlook as their parents used to have. And that might lead them to bring down their levels of life satisfaction.”

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Happy, Happiness. People in all countries of the world are becoming happier. Is this correct or incorrect?

Content, Satisfied. Are Finns happy because they have great parties, feasts, festivals and celebrations?

Frustrated, Disappointed. Do officials in Finland (regularly) accept bribes, embezzle and waste money? Are they disorganized, undisciplined and irresponsible?

Thrilled, Ecstatic. Finnish citizens are very concerned about schools, poverty and destitution. Is this right or wrong?

Hopelessness. Now that they have driven out the Americans and NATO, have Afghans created a great society?

Despair. Finns are happy because they don’t live in a dictatorship, autocracy or oligarchy. They have complete, total independence and freedom. True or false?

On Cloud Nine. In Germany, do young people feel joyous and older people feel gloomy and pessimistic?
Enchanted. How happy are people in your city or country? Ecstatic, very happy, generally happy, in the middle, both happy and unhappy, rather sad, miserable, or it depends?

Comfortable. Who are the happiest people in your country? What group are the happiest? Is there a region that is the happiest in your country?

Relaxed. Who is the happiest person you know? Describe him or her.

Enthralled. What might happen in the future?

Captivated. How can people become happier? What are the keys or secrets to happiness?

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