World Happiness Report e urgently need to learn from Covid-19,” said Jeffrey Sachs, Columbia University professor e C Colum and di Sustai pande and director of the Center for Sustainable Development. “The In a Lamentable Year, Finland Again is the Happiest Country in the World World Happiness Report 2021 Looks at Relationship Between Well-being and COVID-19 NEW YORK, March 19 -- 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 World Health Organization (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 confi dence in their governments. pandemic reminds us of our global environmental threats, the urgent need to cooperate, and the diffi - culties 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 fl eeting indeed if we don’t do a much better job of addressing the challenges of sustainable development.” Every year the World Happiness Report normally compiles data from the previous three years of surveys. We do this to increase the sample size and keep the confi - dence bounds smaller. Looking at each country from 2018-2020, we fi nd these 10 are the happiest in the world : Finland Denmark Switzerland Iceland Netherlands Norway Sweden Luxembourg New Zealand Austria This year, however, because of the pandemic, we thought it would be interesting to also report how countries fared in 2020 only. We note that the one year samples are small enough, and the top country scores are so close, that the differences between nearby countries are not statistically signifi cant. Here are the top 10: Finland Factors helping to account for the variation between countries included: the age of the population; whether the country was an island; and proximity to other highly-infected countries. Cultural differences played a key role as well, including: confi dence in public institutions; knowledge from previous epidemics; income inequality; whether the head of government was a woman, and even whether lost wallets were likely to be returned. “The East Asian experience shows that stringent government Page 6 Iceland Denmark Switzerland Netherlands Sweden Germany Norway New Zealand Austria (Note: Luxembourg was not surveyed in 2020 and is represented by its 2018-19 survey in the offi cial rankings) 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.” The report looks to answer a key question: “Why the different COVID-19 death rates across the world?” Death rates were very much higher in the Americas and Europe than in East Asia, Australasia, and Africa. “This has been a very challenging year, but the early data also show some notable signs of resilience in feelings of social connection and life evaluations.” said social psychologist Lara Aknin. policies not only control Covid-19 effectively, but also buffer the negative impact of daily infections on people’s happiness,” said Shun Wang, professor, KDI School of Public Policy and Management. Mental health has been one of the casualties both of the pandemic and of the resulting lockdowns. When the pandemic struck, there was a large and immediate decline in mental health in many countries around the world. Estimates vary depending on the measure used and the country in question, but the qualitative fi ndings are remarkably similar. In the UK, in May 2020, a general measure of mental health was 7.7 percent lower than predicted in the absence of the pandemic, and the number of mental health problems reported was 47 percent higher. “Living long is as important as living well. In terms of well-being-years per person born, the world has made great progress in recent decades which even COVID-19 has not fully offset,” said Richard Layard, director of the Wellbeing Program at London School of Economics and Political Science. As one would expect with lockdowns and physical distancing, the pandemic had a signifi cant effect on workforce well-being. Falling unemployed during the pandemic is associated with a 12 percent drop in life satisfaction. “Strikingly, we fi nd that among people who stopped work due to furlough or redundancy, the impact on life satisfaction was 40 percent more severe for individuals that felt lonely to begin with,” said Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, director of the University of Oxford’s Wellbeing Center. “Our report also points towards a ‘hybrid’ future of work, that strikes a balance between offi ce life and working from home to maintain social connections while ensuring fl exibility for workers, both of which turn out to be key drivers of workplace well-being.”

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