Since 2002, the World Happiness Report has detailed the world's happiest countries based on several factors. As of 2020, the World Happiness Report determined that Finland is the happiest country in the world.
The report looks at countries with respect to their performance of six particular variables:
- Gross domestic product per capita
- Social support
- Healthy life expectancy
- Freedom to make your own life choices
- Generosity of the general population
- Perceptions of internal and external corruption levels
By relating all of the countries around the world individually to a made-up country called Dystopia, the researchers were able to configure a baseline to compare all other countries. This enabled the study to base the conclusions on rather than not providing any rock bottom.
The country with the highest score was Finland, which is a European country. Fascinating enough, every single country in the top five spots for happiest countries in the world are European countries. Finland is followed in order by Denmark, Norway, Iceland, and the Netherlands. All six variables are considered when defining a score for each country.
The lowest-scoring country in the World Happiness Report of 2020 is Afghanistan. With a total ranking of 2.567, Afghanistan has a low life expectancy rate, paired with low gross domestic product rates per capita.
South Sudan follows Afghanistan with 2.817. South Sudan has a comparable life expectancy and GDP per capita to that of Afghanistan. However, the percentage of generosity within the country is relatively decent. However, where the country fails to excel significantly is personal freedom.
Here is some background information about the top five countries on the list of the world's happiest countries, based on the 2020 edition of the World Happiness Report.
Finland ranks as the world's happiest country based on the 2020 report. Finland scored 7.809 out of a total possible score of 10. The GDP per capita of Finland is just under 2.5, and the overall feeling that there is communal support among citizens of Finland is around 2.5 as well.
People feeling reassured by their fellow citizens speaks volumes, especially because it can be challenging to be happy if you do not feel you are supported or don't have a support system backing you and your decisions. The freedom to make choices in Finland appears to be alive and well. If you glance at the scores within this variable among the happier countries, it is evident that this sense of freedom is rather pertinent where happiness is involved.
There is a meager percentage of people who believe that there is a wealth of generosity in Finland, which paints the picture that maybe generosity is not as important for overall happiness among people and cultures. There is a ladder bar of about 0.3 that depicts Finnish people's perception of corruption. Still, because the other variables are so high-ranking, the positive feelings they elicit diminishes the negativity that corruption may bring to mind.
The second happiest country on the list is Denmark, which scores 7.646. The values for each of the six variables related to Denmark are relatively similar to those of Finland. The primary difference between the two countries relates to the generosity and perceptual corruption.
Denmark has a slightly higher calculation of generosity, and the same goes for the perceived amount of corruption within the country. If you look closely enough, you will see a relatively higher level of corruption perceived by those in Denmark than those in Finland, which is significant enough to drop Denmark into second place.
As the third happiest country in the world, Switzerland scored a total of 7.554 out of 10. This is a significant increase from last year's rankings, enough to surpass the Netherlands and Iceland and knock Norway out of the number three spot. In general, the Swiss are very healthy, with one of the world's lowest obesity rates. The Swiss also have a very high median salary, about 75% higher than that of the United States. Additionally, there is a strong sense of community in Switzerland and a firm belief that it is a safe and clean country— which is true. Along with Iceland and Denmark, Switzerland is one of the world's safest countries.
Iceland ranks as the fourth happiest country in the entire world, with a total rank of 7.494 out of ten. Of the top five happiest countries around the globe, Iceland has the lowest amount of perceived corruption. The country's overall social incorporation of support systems is somewhat greater than the other five countries. However, it is not quite significant enough to make much of a difference or kick another country out of a higher-ranking placeholder and insert Iceland in its place.
Norway is the fifth happiest country in the world, with a score of 7.488. Norway has a higher bar representing the level of generosity in the country than that of Finland and Denmark. Norway is known as a welfare state, where citizens feel like they are being taken care of by their government thanks to universal healthcare and free college tuition. Norwegians also enjoy a healthy work-life balance, working na average of 38 hours per week vs. 41.5. hours per week in the United States. Additionally, Norway has a low crime rate and a good sense of community among its citizens.