Finland Wins Double Gold in World Happiness Report 2018

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ROME, March 14 – This year Finland takes the top spot as the happiest country as measured by surveys undertaken by Gallup from 2015-2017. Rounding out the rest of the top ten in order of overall happiness are Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, Sweden, and Australia. The U.S. ranked 18th, dropping down four spots from last year. In addition, Finland’s immigrants are also the happiest immigrant population in the world, based on the available data from 117 countries.

“Governments are increasingly using indicators of happiness to inform their policy-making decisions,” notes co-editor Jeffrey D. Sachs. “U.S. policymakers should take note. The U.S. happiness ranking is falling, in part because of the ongoing epidemics of obesity, substance abuse, and untreated depression.”

The World Happiness Report 2018, which ranks 156 countries by their happiness levels, and 117 countries by the happiness of their immigrants, was released today at a launch event at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences in the Vatican. A subsequent event will occur next week on March 20th, celebrating World Happiness Day at the United Nations.

This report also considers the happiness of immigrants. The report includes four chapters on migration, both internal (within-country) and international (cross-country), investigating the happiness of migrants, their families left behind, and others living in the cities and countries receiving migrants.

“The most striking finding of the report is the remarkable consistency between the happiness of immigrants and the locally born,” said co-editor Professor John Helliwell of the University of British Columbia. All of the top ten countries for overall happiness 2015-2017 are in the top 11 countries for immigrant happiness based on surveys covering 2005-2015. “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,” said Helliwell. “Those who move to happier countries gain, while those who move to less happy countries lose,” though the adjustment of happiness is not complete, as migrants still reflect in part the happiness of their birth country.

The report, produced by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) with the support of the Ernesto Illy Foundation, is edited by Professor John F. Helliwell of the University of British Columbia and the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research; Professor Richard Layard, co-director of the Well-Being Programme at LSE’s Centre for Economic Performance; and Professor Sachs, director of SDSN. Policy applications of happiness research are collected in a companion SDSN publication Global Happiness Policy Report 2018.

The World Happiness Report 2018 includes the following chapters:

  • Happiness and Migration: An Overview, by John Helliwell, Richard Layard and Jeffrey Sachs
  • International Migration and World Happiness, by John Helliwell, Haifang Huang, Shun Wang and Hugh Shiplett
  • Do International Migrants Increase their Happiness and that of their Families, by Migrating? by Martijn Hendricks, Martijn Burger, Julie Ray and Neli Esipova
  • Migration and Happiness in China, by John Knight and Ramani Gunatilaka
  • Happiness and International Migration in Latin America, by Carol Graham and Milena Nikolova
  • Happiness in Latin America has Social Foundations, by Mariano Rojas
  • America’s Health Crisis and the Easterlin Paradox, by Jeffrey Sachs

“Coffee is quite literally the beverage of happiness, something remarkably simple yet complex that brings so much pleasure to so many every day, while creating development in producing countries with every cup. So the idea of supporting a project like The World Happiness Report, and the brilliant work of Professor Sachs and his team, is only natural for illy,” said Andrea Illy, Chairman of illycaffè and Member of the Board of Fondazione Ernesto Illy. “This year’s focus on happiness throughout Latin America means a great deal to us. Two-thirds of our coffee is purchased directly from farmers in Latin American countries, who receive a large premium over market prices for meeting our high quality standards, and whom we educate to help them achieve that quality. This model puts into motion virtuous cycle that enables farmers to invest deeper in quality and land, which creates economic growth that sustains over time, and with it more pleasurable lives for them, and more pleasure in the cup for devotees of our coffee.”