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In a Lamentable Year, Finland Again is the Happiest Country in the World


The 2021 World Happiness Report marks a somber moment as COVID-19 continues to rage on a little more than a year since it was declared a pandemic by the WHO. More than two million people have died worldwide and the threat of variants and uneven policy decisions on how to respond has created uncertainty in what the future holds.


But despite this, there is hope that the end game is in sight, as vaccine rollout steadily increases while many continue to adhere to mask mandates and physical distancing.

This year’s Happiness Report was faced with a unique challenge in trying to understand what effect the pandemic has had on subjective well-being and vice versa. Of all the factors usually supporting happiness, the most important for explaining COVID-19 death rates were people’s trust in each other, and confidence in their governments.


“We need urgently to learn from COVID-19,” said Jeffrey Sachs. “The pandemic reminds us of our global environmental threats, the urgent need to cooperate, and the difficulties of achieving cooperation in each country and globally. The World Happiness Report 2021 reminds us that we must aim for wellbeing rather than mere wealth, which will be fleeting indeed if we don’t do a much better job of addressing the challenges of sustainable development.”


It comes as no surprise as Finland once again takes the top spot as the happiest country in the world according to survey data taken from the Gallup World Poll. It has always ranked very high on the measures of mutual trust that have helped to protect lives and livelihoods during the pandemic. The rankings overall remained very similar to last year.

“Surprisingly there was not, on average, a decline in well-being when measured by people’s own evaluation of their lives,” said John Helliwell. “One possible explanation is that people see COVID-19 as a common, outside threat affecting everybody and that this has generated a greater sense of solidarity and fellow-feeling.”

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