Nordic Countries Dominate World Happiness Report Once Again

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The 2024 edition of the World Happiness Report is out and its a familiar story. Find out how Norway and the other Nordic countries rank in the latest survey.

For a happy, contented life, there’s nowhere better to live in the world than the Nordic countries. Once again, that is the finding in the latest edition of the World Happiness Report.

Flags of the five Nordic countries.
All five principal Nordic nations ranked in the top 10 of the World Happiness Report.

But is that really true? Given the stories we receive on an almost daily basis about unhappy foreigners in Norway, what is the truth behind this annual report? Let’s dive into the detail.

Finland is the World’s Happiest Country

Finland claimed the top spot in the happiness rankings with a score of 7.741, attributed to its citizens' strong community bonds, altruistic behavior, and clear life purpose.

The country excels in education, work-life balance, environmental quality, social connections, safety, and overall life satisfaction, as per the OECD Better Life Index.

With a life expectancy of about 82 years, Finland also boasts a supportive community, with 96% of its people confident in having someone to rely on during tough times.

Nordic Countries Dominate the Report

As in recent years, Finland’s Nordic neighbors also earned reliably high scores. In fact, all the Nordic countries comfortably ranked in the top 10.

Finnish people waving flags of Finland in the snow.
Finnish people are the happiest in the world, according to the new report.

Denmark, Iceland, and Sweden followed Finland with second, third, and fourth placed rankings respectively. Norway placed in seventh.

Not Happiest, But ‘Least Unhappy’

The Nordic countries’ placings in the report always seem to cause amusement among the expat populations, at least in Norway. Many speculate that the good rankings are simply a natural result of janteloven, essentially putting society ahead of the individual.

One Finnish philosopher may have stumbled upon a good explanation. Frank Martela told CNBC that Finland might better be described as having the fewest unhappy people.

It makes sense. The region’s high societal trust, strong welfare systems, relatively low crime and low unemployment means there are relatively few people who consider themselves seriously unhappy.

That’s a sentiment echoed by many expats living in Norway. A few years ago, I spoke with Oslo-based American Audrey Camp who suggested “contentment” a better word than “happiness.”

She said that when people feel secure in their jobs, health and education, they have the freedom to emotionally invest in things that matter more for happiness, such as family, friends and fun.

About the World Happiness Report

The World Happiness Report draws on global survey data from people in more than 140 countries. Countries are ranked on happiness based on their average life evaluations over the three preceding years, in this case 2021 to 2023.

The report is a partnership of Gallup, the Oxford Wellbeing Research Centre, the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network and an editorial board.

About David Nikel

Originally from the UK, David now lives in Trondheim and was the original founder of Life in Norway back in 2011. He now works as a professional writer on all things Scandinavia.

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