World Happiness Report: Finland ranks first, India 139th

Finland has been declared the world’s happiest country for the fourth year running, according to the World Happiness Report 2021 published on Friday by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network. 

Meanwhile, India ranked 139th out of the 149 countries in the list — a slight improvement since last year, when it was ranked 140th. Of the 10 top countries in the list, nine were in Europe. Finland was followed by Denmark, Switzerland, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Luxembourg, New Zealand and Austria.

The report evaluated levels of happiness by taking into account factors such as GDP, social support, personal freedom, and levels of corruption in each nation. But this year, the authors had a unique new challenge to address in the report — the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and its devastating impact on nations around the world. 

“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,” one of the authors, Jeffrey Sachs, said. “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.”

With the pandemic wreaking havoc across the globe, this years’ report provided two different sets of rankings — one was the usual list based on the the average of three years of surveys taken in 2018-2020 by Gallup, while another focussed solely on 2020 to understand how Covid impacted subjective well being. 

According to the authors of the paper, trust was the key factor used to measure happiness in each country. Nations where citizens had more faith vested in its institutions and had greater income equality were considered to be more successful in combating the pandemic. 

Afghanistan remained the least happy country in the world, as per the list. Meanwhile, the United States slipped one spot to number 19. A number of Asian countries fared better this year than they had last year, while China moved to the 84th spot from the 94th. 

“Surprisingly there was not, on average, a decline in well-being when measured by people’s own evaluation of their lives,” John Helliwell, another author of the report, said. 

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