The United Nation‘s latest international happiness ranking has Finland sitting in the top spot, and Canada in the 7th.
The World Happiness Report, which was published Wednesday, ranked 156 countries by happiness levels, based on factors such as life expectancy, social support and corruption.
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The top 10 countries included: Finland, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, Sweden and Australia.
Canada was in 7th place in last year’s report as well. This year, Canada scored 7.3. Finland’s score is 7.6.
The report explained that minor switch-ups in the top 10 are to be expected each year, and the top countries all tend to excel in the same areas.
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“All the top countries tend to have high values for all six of the key variables that have been found to support well-being: income, healthy life, expectancy, social support, freedom, trust and generosity,” the report read.
This year’s report, released a day before World Happiness Day, highlighted that the happiness index is closely tied to how immigrants of a country feel. It explained that countries with the happiest immigrants aren’t the necessarily more wealthy, but they tend to offer a balanced lifestyle and social services.
It pointed out that Finland also holds the top ranking in among countries in immigrant happiness. The country has about 300,000 foreigners and residents with foreign roots, out of its 5.5 million people.
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John Helliwell, a co-editor of the World Happiness Report and professor emeritus of economics at the University of British Columbia, said locally-born residents’ and foreigners’ happiness is closely related.
“The most striking finding of the report is the remarkable consistency between the happiness of immigrants and the locally born,” Helliwell said. “Those who move to happier countries gain, while those who move to less happy countries lose.”
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While Canada stayed at the same ranking this year, the report notes that its happiness level has dropped slightly in the last few years. In years before 2017, Canada typically took the 5th or 6th spot.
Researchers compared data from 2008-2010 to rankings from 2015-2017, to find that Canada’s score has decreased -0.213 over that period.
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But Canada fared significantly better than its neighbours down south. The United States dropped in the ranking to 18th place from 14th last year.
“The U.S. is in the midst of a complex and worsening public health crisis, involving epidemics of obesity, opioid addiction, and major depressive disorder that are all remarkable by global standards,” the report explained.
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The U.S. has never been in the top 10.
The lowest-ranking countries on the happiness scale included ones where there is political unrest, violence or economic uncertainty.
Burudi ranked lowest, with Central Africa Republic, South Sudan, Tanzania and Yemen rounding out the bottom five.
— With files from The Associated Press
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