Can reports really measure happiness?

This year, Finland topped the 2018 Global Happiness Report, published by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network. But do official reports really show the whole picture?

Valerie Vlasenko
Valerie Vlasenko NewsMavens, Finland
Can reports really measure happiness? - NewsMavens

Why this story matters:

Finland has been recognized as one of the most liveable countries in the world by a wide range of metrics. It is often listed among the safest, freest, best governed, and most stable countries in the world. It is also one of the least corrupted and has the lowest levels of organized crime in the world. 

That being said, measuring happiness is not an easy task. Not only does it require more measurements than just income, life expectancy and social security, but it is also a profoundly subjective concept, often independent from any quantifiable metrics. Being ranked as the happiest country in the world does not mean the life of the average Finn is a bed of roses.

The report does not take into account physical and mental health, or social wellbeing. And, unfortunately, in Finland the situation on that front is not as good as it could be.

Family violence, and suicide rates remain among the highest in Europe despite considerable progress. Still, Finns manage to cope with problems by developing a positive attitude and focusing on strengths.

For instance, Nordic countries pay some of the highest taxes in the world, and while those numbers can seem staggering compared to the tax rates in neighboring Baltic countries, the majority of the population sees high taxes as long-term investments in quality of life, with rewards like free healthcare and education.

So before you pack your bags and move to Finland -- or any other country -- keep in mind that happiness is not as simple a topic as many would have you think. 

Details from the story:

  • Finland has topped the 2018 Global Happiness Report, published by the UN SustainableDevelopment Solutions Network.
  • Nordic countries have been holding top positions in the last two years.
  • The rankings of country happiness are based on the pooled results from Gallup World Poll surveys from 2015-2017.
  • The rankings are based on key six variables that have been found to support well-being: income, healthy life expectancy, social support, freedom, trust and generosity.
  • Countries topping the ranking also scored highest on their immigrant happiness.
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