Americans were identified to be a less happier lot despite their economy now doing well while the happiest country in the world was adjudged to be Finland according to an annual survey issued on Wednesday.
Based on parameters of absence of corruption, generosity, social freedom, healthy life expectancy, GDP per capita and social support among others, 165 countries were ranked for happiness of the residents by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network’s (SDSN) 2018 World Happiness Report. The report put Burundi at the bottom of the list.
Among the best things about in their country were access to nature, safety, childcare, good schools and free healthcare, said the Fins even while taking into consideration the harsh, dark winters in their stride.
“I’ve joked with the other Americans that we are living the American dream here in Finland,” said Brianna Owens, who moved from the United States and is now a teacher in Espoo, Finland’s second biggest city with a population of around 280,000.
“I think everything in this society is set up for people to be successful, starting with university and transportation that works really well,” Owens told the international news agency Reuters.
Finland was placed fifth in this ranking last year and this year it displaced Norway for the top spot. The Nordic countries dominated the top 10 positions for 2018. The countries identified in the top ten are Finland, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, Netherlands Canada, New Zealand, Sweden and Australia.
While Britain ranked 19th and the Arab Emirates ranked 20th, the U.S. was ranked 18th while it was placed 14th last year.
Emerging health problems such as obesity, depression and the opioid crisis were discussed in one chapter of the report and all of these problems are abundant in the U.S. – more than in most of the other countries evaluated.
Declining confidence in public institutions an increased perception of enhancement of corruption in government and business and weakened social support network has hit happiness quotients in the U.S. even though the country has witnessed a marked increase in income per capita over the last half century.
“We obviously have a social crisis in the United States: more inequality, less trust, less confidence in government,” the head of the SDSN, professor Jeffrey Sachs of New York’s Columbia University, told the media during the launch of the report.
“It’s pretty stark right now. The signs are not good for the US. It is getting richer and richer but not getting happier.”
“Time will tell, but I would say that in general that when confidence in government is low, when perceptions of corruption are high, inequality is high and health conditions are worsening … that is not conducive to good feelings”, Sachs said when asked about how the current political situation in the United States could affect future happiness reports.
“The most striking finding of the report is the remarkable consistency between the happiness of immigrants and the locally born,” said professor John Helliwell of Canada’s University of British Columbia.
“Although immigrants come from countries with very different levels of happiness, their reported life evaluations converge towards those of other residents in their new countries,” he said.
“Those who move to happier countries gain, while those who move to less happy countries lose” .
(Adapted from Livemint.com)