STOCKHOLM (AP) – The coronavirus brought a year of fear, anxiety, loneliness, blockage, as well as disease and death.
The editors of the 2021 World Happiness Report found that although emotions changed as the epidemic changed, long-term life satisfaction was less affected.
“What we’ve found is that when people take a long look, they’ve been very resilient over the last year,” said Effrey Sachs, an economist at Columbia University in New York, who co-authored the report.
The annual report compiled by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network classifies 149 countries based on gross domestic product per capita, healthy life expectancy, and population feedback. Surveys ask respondents on a scale of 1 to 10 to indicate how much social support they receive if something goes wrong, their freedom to choose their life, their sense of corrupt society, and their generosity.
Due to the epidemic, surveys for this year’s World Happiness Report were conducted in slightly less than 100 countries, the ninth since the program was launched. The ranking of indexes of other nations was based on the evaluation of past data.
The results from both methods ranked European countries in the top 10 on the list of the happiest places in the word, and New Zealand grouped the group. The top 10 countries are Finland, Denmark, Switzerland, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Luxembourg, New Zealand and Austria.
It was the fourth year in a row that Finland came out on top. The United States, which was ranked No. 13 five years ago, dropped from 18th to 19th. The United States is 14th on the shortlist, which includes only the countries surveyed.
“Year after year, we find that life satisfaction is reported to be happier in northern European social democracies,” Sachs said. “People feel safe in those countries, so there is a lot of trust. “The government is considered trustworthy, honest, and trust in each other is high.”
Finland’s relative success in curbing COVID-19 can contribute to sustainable governance of the country’s population. The country has taken swift, comprehensive measures to stop the spread of the virus; it has the lowest COVID-19 mortality rate in Europe.
“Of course, people in Finland also suffered,” said Anu Partanen, author of The Scandinavian Theory of Everything in Helsinki on Friday. “But again, in Finland, in the Nordic countries, people are really lucky, because the society still supports the system that provides such shocks.”
Overall, the indicator showed a slight change in the level of happiness compared to the previous year’s report, which was based on information before the epidemic.
“We asked two kinds of questions. One is about life in general, the evaluation of life that we call it. How is your life going? “The other is about mood, emotions, stress, anxiety,” Sachs said. “Of course, we are still in a deep crisis. But the answers to the assessment of longevity have not changed decisively, even though the disruption of our lives was so profound. ”
Problems affecting the well-being of people living in the United States include racial tensions, rising income inequality among the richest and poorest, say happiness experts.
“As to why the United States ranks much lower than other similar or even less affluent countries, the answer is clear,” said Carol Graham, a Brookings Institution expert who was not included in the report. “The United States has more gaps in the happiness rankings between the rich and the poor than most other rich countries.”
“American culture rewards signs of wealth, such as big houses, lots of cars, more than any other country,” said Sonya Lubormirsky, co-author of the report.
Conversely, people’s perceptions that their country is coping well with the epidemic have contributed to an overall increase in prosperity, says Sax, Colombia. Several Asian countries were better off than last year. China moved from 84th to 84th place last year.
“It was a difficult time. People look to the past when they are looking for the long term. “But there are many people who suffer in the short term,” he said.
Finnish philosopher Esa Saarinen, who was not included in the report, believes that the Finnish nature itself can help explain why the country continues to lead the index.
“I think Finns are quite a kind of content at a certain level, just what we are,” he said. “We really should not be more.”
Seth Borenstein, based in Washington, DC, participated in this report.