New Delhi: The World Happiness Report has called Finland the happiest place to live. The report which was published by U.N. Sustainable Development Solutions Networkon Wednesday ranked 156 countries on the basis of life expectancy, social support and corruption.
This year, the report also ranked countries on the basis of happiness and well being of their immigrants.
Europe’s Nordic nations, none particularly diverse, have dominated the index since it first was produced in 2012. In reaching No. 1, Finland nudged neighboring Norway into second place.
The United States has fell to 18th spot from the previously held 14th place. The other countries in the top ten are Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, Sweden and Australia.
Relatively homogenous Finland has about 300,000 foreigners and residents with foreign roots, out of its 5.5 million people.
Its largest immigrant groups come from other European nations, but there also are communities from Afghanistan, China, Iraq and Somalia.
John Helliwell, a co-editor of the World Happiness Report and professor emeritus of economics at the University of British Columbia, noted all the top-10 nations scored highest in overall happiness and the happiness of immigrants. He said a society’s happiness seems contagious.
“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.”
The United States was 11th in the first index and has never been in the Top 10. To explain its fall to 18th, the report’s authors cited several factors.
“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 said.
It added that the “sociopolitical system” in the United States produces more income inequality _ a major contributing factor to unhappiness _ than other countries with comparatively high incomes.
The United States also has seen declining “trust, generosity and social support, and those are some of the factors that explain why some countries are happier than others,” Wiking said.