2020 would seem to have been a tough year for happiness. But not for the Finns. Or for most of the rest of us for that matter.

The World Happiness Report is out and despite the death toll from Covid along with the economic insecurity and disruption of most aspects of life, the world remained a surprisingly happy place.

The report revealed a “significantly higher frequency of negative emotions” in just over a third of the countries; however, things improved in 22 countries. “Surprisingly,” said one of the report’s authors, “there was not, on average, a decline in well-being when measured by people’s own evaluation of their lives.”

One explanation offered was that people saw Covid as an external threat affecting everyone and this resulted in “a greater sense of solidarity and fellow-feeling.” We’re all in it together so to speak.

For the fourth year in a row Finland ranked at the top. According to the report authors, it “ranked very high on the measures of mutual trust that have helped to protect lives and livelihoods during the pandemic.” Not surprisingly, the country did far better than other European countries in dealing with the virus.

Denmark came in second followed by Switzerland, Iceland and the Netherlands. Canada ranked 15th, just below the U.S. Not the happiest, but pretty happy, although I would have thought we’d do better than the Americans. The unhappiest country in the world was Afghanistan, followed by Lesotho, Botswana, Rwanda and Zimbabwe.

The report is published by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, with data gathered from the Gallup World Poll and Lloyd’s Register Foundation. Gallup asks the people of 149 countries to rate their own happiness. Also factored in are measures such as social support, personal freedom, gross domestic product and levels of corruption. This year’s report focused on the effects of Covid on happiness and how different countries succeeded in reducing deaths and maintaining connected and healthy societies.

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