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According to the latest World Happiness Report, Finland is the happiest country in the world. As for Americans, we seem to be getting less happy — even as the country gets richer. The study by the Sustainable Development Solution Network, released on March 14, ranked 156 countries according to GDP per capita, social support, healthy life expectancy, social freedom, generosity and absence of corruption.
Finland, which was ranked fifth in the 2017 SDSN report, rose to the top spot, citing access to nature, safety, childcare, good school and free healthcare as some of the best things about their country. Finland snagged the top spot from its neighbor, Norway, but the Nordic countries were still well-represented in the top spots.
The top 10 countries were: Finland, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, Sweden and Australia.
The US came placed 18th, down from 14th place last year. In the 170-page report, one chapter was dedicated to emerging health problems like obesity, depression and the opioid crisis — all of which have become much larger problems in the US compared to other countries around the world.
The US income per capita has increased over the last half century, but happiness in the country has weakened due to “social support networks, a perceived rise in corruption in government and business and declining confidence in public institutions,” according to Reuters.
This year was the first time the SDSN report ranked the happiness of foreign-born immigrants in 117 countries: Finland won out in this category too. Foreign-born residents were least happiest in Syria, which has been in the middle of a civil war for seven years.
“The most striking finding of the report is the remarkable consistency between the happiness of immigrants and the locally born,” said professor John Helliwell, of Canada’s University of British Columbia, to Reuters. “Those who move to happier countries gain, while those who move to less happy countries lose.”
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