The world’s happiest countries in 2022

The world's happiest countries in 2022 Source: Twitter

The annual World’s Happiest Countries survey is out again offering few surprises for 2022.

The World Happiness Report, a publication of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, draws on global survey data from people in about 150 countries.

This year it highlights the devastating loss of life and the growing uncertainty that has the world on edge, with tensions between the West and the East as well as the war in Ukraine playing heavily on the minds of many.

They do however say that three is one really good bit of news and that is the growing benevolence across the globe, with people more willing to donate, to help out.

Now in its 10th year, the report comes at the end of the global pandemic and the start of a new Cold War, but according to John Helliwell, one of the report’s three founding editors, they found something quite unexpected.

“The big surprise was that globally, in an uncoordinated way, there have been very large increases in all the three forms of benevolence that are asked about in the Gallup World Poll.”

Continuing he said donating to charity, helping a stranger and volunteering are all up, “especially the help to strangers in 2021, relative to either before the pandemic or 2020, by a very large amount in all regions of the world.”

Helliwell, who is a Professor Emeritus at the Vancouver School of Economics, University of British Columbia said that the global average of the three measures jumped by about 25% in 2021 compared with pre-pandemic levels.

The world’s happiest country

Not unexpectedly and for the fifth year in a row, Finland takes top spot.

It’s neighbours Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Iceland all score very well on the measures the report uses to explain its findings: healthy life expectancy, GDP per capita, social support in times of trouble, low corruption and high social trust, generosity in a community where people look after each other and freedom to make key life decisions.

Denmark comes in at No. 2 in this year’s rankings, followed by Iceland at No. 3, whilst Sweden and Norway are seventh and eighth, respectively.

Switzerland, the Netherlands and Luxembourg take places 4 through 6, with Israel coming in at No. 9 and New Zealand rounding out the top 10.

Other nations to make the top 20 include Canada (No. 15), the United States (No. 16) and the United Kingdom (No. 17).

The world in troubled times

Despite the pandemic and rising inflation, worry and stress dipped in year two of the pandemic although it remains above pre-pandemic levels.

Helliwell puts this down to: “I think part of that is people knew a little more what they were dealing with in the second year, even if there were new surprises.

“Average life evaluations “have remained remarkably resilient” during the pandemic, with negative and positive influences offsetting each other.

“For the young, life satisfaction has fallen, while for those over 60, it has risen — with little overall change.”

Helliwell acknowledges that there’s a sense that crises bring out either the best or the worst in societies saying: In general, people are too pessimistic about the goodwill in the societies they live in, so then when the actual disaster happens and they see other people responding positively to help others, it raises their opinion both of themselves and of their fellow citizens.”

“And so you find both trust in others and general life evaluations often rise in times when you think ‘these are bad times,’ but what’s happening is people are working together to deal with them.”

This interplay of negative and positive very much applies to the situation in Ukraine, who are 98th of the list, although how the scales will ultimately tip remains to be seen. Working together will certainly offset, to some degree, the tragedies affecting Ukrainians,

Helliwell said. “Their heartland is being attacked, so they’ll be getting some coming-together effect, but of course the actual damage is terrible.”

But the effects of the war go further with overall happiness in Russia likely to fall as government censorship distorts information, people lose friends and family, and sanctions begin to take effect.

Both Ukraine (98) and Russia (80) are in the bottom half of the table whilst Afghanistan takes bottom place.

Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, another report editor, said in a news release: “the rankings are a stark reminder of the material and immaterial damage that war does to its many victims.

“It’s conceivable some people seeing what war can do close up on their television screens every day to the lives of people who have nothing to do with war and want nothing to do with war can make them feel lucky they’re not there or empathetic to the point of pain for the people who are there.

“And they’re both real and understandable emotions, but they’re playing on opposite sides of the balance.”

Everyone is hoping that the World’s happiest countries for 2022 report’s findings that people are becoming increasingly benevolent will continue well into the future, and that it will overcome those who pour misery on others.

The world’s happiest countries, 2022 edition

  1. Finland
  2. Denmark
  3. Iceland
  4. Switzerland
  5. Netherlands
  6. Luxembourg
  7. Sweden
  8. Norway
  9. Israel
  10. New Zealand
  11. Austria
  12. Australia
  13. Ireland
  14. Germany
  15. Canada
  16. United States
  17. United Kingdom
  18. Czechia (Czech Republic)
  19. Belgium
  20. France

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Written by

Peter McLaren-Kennedy

Originally from South Africa, Peter is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at [email protected]