The coronavirus did little to alter the ranking of the world’s happiest countries, a UN-sponsored annual report said on Friday.
Researchers for the World Happiness Report used data from Gallup asking people in 149 countries to rate their own happiness, also taking into account measures such as GDP, social support, personal freedom, and the levels of corruption of each nation.
Costa Rica ranks first as Latin America’s happiest country during the pandemic year of 2020, it ranks 16th place worldwide. Uruguay ranks 31st worldwide, followed by other Latin American Countries: Brazil (35th), Mexico (36th), Panama (41st), and Chile (43rd). Argentina is in 57th place worldwide.
Happiest countries worldwide
Once again, the first places worldwide were dominated by European countries: Finland ranked as the happiest place on earth for the fourth year in a row. Denmark ranked second and Switzerland third. They are followed by Iceland and the Netherlands. New Zealand, which fell one place to ninth, was again the only non-European nation in the top ten.
Other climbers were Germany, which rose from 17th to 13th, and France, which rose to 21st. The UK, meanwhile, fell from 13th to 17th, while the United States dropped one place to 19th.
The African nations Lesotho, Botswana, Rwanda, and Zimbabwe were at the bottom of the table, but ahead of Afghanistan, which was ranked the most unhappy country in the world this year.
The effect of COVID-19 on happiness
The authors compared this year’s data with averages from previous years to measure the impact of the pandemic and found “a significantly higher frequency of negative emotions” in just over a third of the countries.
But positive emotions rose in 22 countries, and “surprisingly there was, on average, no decline in well-being when measured by people’s own assessment of lives,” said John Helliwell, one of the report’s authors.
“One possible explanation is that people see COVID-19 as a common external threat that affects everyone and that this has generated a greater sense of solidarity and camaraderie,” he said.
Meanwhile, author Jeffrey Sachs warned that “we urgently need to learn from COVID-19,” adding: “We must aim for well-being rather than mere wealth.”
Finland, which has reported some of the lowest incidences of the coronavirus in Europe throughout the health crisis, “ranked very high in mutual trust measures that have helped protect lives and livelihoods during the pandemic.” the authors said.
Despite long winters and a reputation for being unrepresentative and lonely, Finland has a high standard of living, well-functioning public services, many forests and lakes, and has very positive rates of solidarity and fighting against poverty and inequality.
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