World Happiness Report: The power of the COVID-19 pandemic

World Happiness Report: The power of the COVID-19 pandemic
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The World Happiness Report 2022 highlighted how the COVID-19 pandemic positively impacted the public with an increase in social support and kindness.

The World Happiness Report uses global survey data to illustrate how people evaluate their own lives in more than 150 countries around the world, reaching over nine million people in 2021. As the world battles the ills of disease and war, it is especially important to remember the universal desire for happiness and the capacity of individuals to rally to each other’s support in times of great need noted by the authors of the report.

COVID-19 is the biggest health crisis we’ve seen in more than a century,” said Professor John Helliwell of the University of British Columbia. “Now that we have two years of evidence, we are able to assess not just the importance of benevolence and trust, but to see how they have contributed to wellbeing during the pandemic.”

The report can be found on the World Happiness Report website.

World Happiness Report finds increased acts of kindness

Helliwell added, “We found during 2021 remarkable worldwide growth in all three acts of kindness monitored in the Gallup World Poll. Helping strangers, volunteering, and donations in 2021 were strongly up in every part of the world, reaching levels almost 25% above their pre-pandemic prevalence. This surge of benevolence, which was especially great for the helping of strangers, provides powerful evidence that people respond to help others in need, creating in the process more happiness for the beneficiaries, good examples for others to follow, and better lives for themselves.”

The report recounted that Finland was crowned the happiest place in the world for the fifth year in a row. However, this year it scored significantly more than other countries in the top ten. Denmark achieved second place, with Iceland in third place and Switzerland in fourth place.

The leader board includes:

  1. Finland
  2. Denmark
  3. Iceland
  4. Switzerland
  5. Netherlands
  6. Luxembourg
  7. Sweden
  8. Norway
  9. Israel
  10. New Zealand
  11. Austria
  12. Australia
  13. Ireland
  14. Germany
  15. Canada

Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, the Director of the Wellbeing Research Centre at the University of Oxford, noted: “At the very bottom of the ranking we find societies that suffer from conflict and extreme poverty, notably we find that people in Afghanistan evaluate the quality of their own lives as merely 2.4 out of 10. This presents a stark reminder of the material and immaterial damage that war does to its many victims and the fundamental importance of peace and stability for human wellbeing.”

Measuring happiness

“The World Happiness Report is changing the conversation about progress and wellbeing. It provides important snapshots of how people around the world feel about the overall quality of their lives,” said McGill University Professor Christopher Barrington-Leigh. According to the researchers, this information can, in turn, help countries craft policies aimed at achieving happier societies.

Previous World Happiness Reports addressed the links between people’s trust in the government and institutions with happiness. The findings demonstrate that communities with high levels of trust are happier and more resilient in the face of a wide range of crises.


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