Revellers in Helsinki last May celebrate Finland winning the 2022 Ice Hockey World Championship. Finland was ranked the world's happiest country for the sixth consecutive year following a World Happiness report survey. Photo: Alessandro Rampazzo/AFP via Getty Images
COVID-19 has killed millions and caused widespread disruptions to people's lives and global economies — but a major new study finds people are slightly happier than before the pandemic began.
The big picture: The 10th annual report, published Monday to coincide with the International Day of Happiness, surveyed over 100,000 and found that Finland was the happiest country for the sixth consecutive year, while Afghanistan was the least happy, leaving the Taliban-controlled nation ranking last at No. 137.
- The U.S. was ranked the 15th happiest nation.
Meanwhile, the report found global misery has declined slightly during the pandemic.
Driving the news: The "undoubted pains" the world faced over the pandemic "were offset by increases in the extent to which respondents had been able to discover and share the capacity to care for each other in difficult times," according to the report.
- Benevolence to others has risen roughly 25% since the pandemic began, John Helliwell, a professor of economics at the University of British Columbia and a co-editor of the report, told CNN.
- "Even during these difficult years, positive emotions have remained twice as prevalent as negative ones, and feelings of positive social support twice as strong as those of loneliness," Helliwell said in a statement accompanying the report.
Of note: Co-author Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, director of the Wellbeing Research Centre at the University of Oxford, noted in an accompanying statement that "well-being in Ukraine has taken a real hit" since Russian forces invaded the country last year.
- However, De Neve said the decline in well-being was less than in 2014 "when Russia annexed Crimea." This was in part due to "the extraordinary rise in fellow feeling across Ukraine as picked up in data on helping strangers and donations," De Neve added.
Context: The United Nations set up the International Day of Happiness as "a way to recognise the importance of happiness in the lives of people around the world," per a UN statement.
- The report is published as part of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network.
How it works: The World Happiness Report research examines six key factors arising from self-reported levels of happiness across the world: social support, income, health, freedom, generosity, and absence of corruption. Governments are increasingly using this analysis to orient policies towards happiness.
World's happiest countries, ranked:
10. New Zealand
15. United States
18. Czech Republic
19. United Kingdom
Read the full report, via DocumentCloud:
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