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The World Happiness Report’s annual scores stay remarkably strong no matter the lingering consequences of the pandemic throughout the globe.
According to people’s self-reported assessment of their lives on a scale of zero to 10, with zero being the worst possible life they could have expected to have and ten being the best, Finland again takes the top spot for the happiest.
Nearby Denmark, Iceland, Sweden, and Norway all joined Finland in the top 10.
On the other hand, Americans in the United States were reportedly happier, ranking from the 19th to the 16th.
One of the editors of the report, economist John Helliwell, explained to Planet Money in 2019 that the two biggest factors in people’s happiness ratings were their income and social support — “somebody to count on in times of trouble,” Helliwell said.
Stress reports have been higher due to the pandemic, but people have said they were more generous with their time and money last year and were also more thoughtful towards people they didn’t know.
However, Finland taking the top spot may not be what it seems, as a Finnish writer has argued in Slate that Scandinavia’s rankings for happiness aren’t the result of the quality of life in the country, but because the people in those countries have a lower standard for what constitutes their best possible life.
“Consistent with their Lutheran heritage, the Nordic countries are united in their embrace of curbed aspirations,” wrote Jukka Savolainen. “People are socialized to believe that what they have is as good as it gets — or close enough.”