People around the world did not report being more unhappy during the COVID pandemic than in the years before it, according to a study.
Published on 20 March – International Day of Happiness – the 2023 World Happiness Report revealed positive emotions outweighed negative ones at a rate of two to one in the years from 2020 to 2022.
People were asked to rank their happiness on a scale of one to ten, and gave scores over the pandemic years that were just as high as in the previous years.
The polling, conducted by Gallup, also found feelings of positive social support were twice as strong as feelings of loneliness.
For the second year in a row, acts of kindness that both led to and stemmed from greater happiness were above pre-pandemic levels.
These acts include helping a stranger, donating to charity and volunteering.
Finland was ranked the happiest country – the sixth year in a row it’s held the top spot.
The UK was ranked at 19, having dropped down the list for four years in a row.
Afghanistan remained at the bottom of the list, with Lebanon in second-last place.
The top ten countries are:
10. New Zealand
The polling found GDP per capita, social support, healthy life expectancy, freedom to make life choices, generosity and freedom from corruption were the main drivers of happiness.
The report examined the “happiness gap” between the top and the bottom halves of the population. It found the gap is small in countries where most people are either happy or unhappy, and generally people are happier living in countries where the happiness gap is smaller.
This year’s report also took a closer look at the available survey data from Ukraine.
Report author Jan-Emmanuel De Neve said wellbeing in Ukraine had “taken a real hit” – but surprisingly, it fell by less than it did in 2014 when Russia annexed Crimea.
“This is thanks in part to the extraordinary rise in fellow feeling across Ukraine as picked up in data on helping strangers and donations – the Russian invasion has forged Ukraine into a nation,” Mr De Neve said.