HELSINKI: Fans of skiing, saunas and Santa Claus won’t be surprised to hear Finland is the happiest place to live.
The World Happiness Report published Wednesday ranked 156 countries by happiness levels, based on factors such as life expectancy, social support and corruption.
Unlike past years, the annual report published by the U.N. Sustainable Development Solutions Network also evaluated 117 countries by the 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.
Rounding out the Top 10 are Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, Sweden and Australia. The United States fell to 18th place from 14th last year.
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.”