Finland has been named the happiest country for the fifth successive year in the World Happiness Report 2022. The United Nations-sponsored index was released two days before the International Day of Happiness, which falls on March 20.
Denmark bagged the second spot and Iceland claimed the third, improving from the fourth place last year. Switzerland, at number four, is followed by the Netherlands in fifth and Luxembourg in the sixth place. Sweden, Norway, Israel, and New Zealand form the remainder of the top 10.
The United States rose three places to 16th, one ahead of Britain, while Canada fell 10 spots -- from fifth last year to 15th this year. France climbed to the 20th, its highest ranking yet.
India ranked 136th in the annual survey, while neighbouring Pakistan is ranked 121st. India saw a marginal improvement, rising three spots from 139 a year ago.
Warring neighbours Russia and Ukraine have been ranked 80 and 98 respectively. The rankings of the report, however, were compiled before Russia launched the invasion in Ukraine.
Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania recorded the biggest boosts in wellbeing, while Lebanon, Venezuela and Afghanistan saw the largest fall in happiness.
Lebanon is in the middle of an economic crisis and dropped to the penultimate spot in the list of 146 countries. On the other hand, Afghanistan’s humanitarian crisis led to the country being placed at the bottom of the rankings.
Co-author Jan-Emmanuel De Neve noted in a blog post, "This presents a stark reminder of the material and immaterial damage that war does to its many victims and the fundamental importance of peace and stability for human well-being.”
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the World Happiness Report, which is issued annually by the UN’s Sustainable Development Solutions Network. The report ranks 150 countries (146 in 2022).
The index is calculated using people's self-reported happiness as well as economic and social data and, based on a three-year average, assigns a happiness score in the range 0 to 10.
This year, it also used data from social media to compare people's emotions before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. The authors found "strong increases in anxiety and sadness" in 18 countries but a fall in feelings of anger.