Sad detail for young Aussies, Kiwis in United Nations’ 2024 world happiness ranking

Finland has once again been named the happiest country in the world.

The European nation has taken out the title for the seventh year in a row as decided by the United Nations World Happiness Report.

Australia came in at number 10 (up from 12th place last year) and New Zealand in the 11th spot (down from 10th place last year).

Following Finland was Denmark, Iceland, Sweden, Israel, the Netherlands, Norway, Luxembourg and Switzerland.

The United States (ranked 23rd) has fallen out of the top 20 for the first time since the report was first published in 2012.

Rankings are based on a three-year average of each population’s assessment of their quality of life.

The Gallup World Poll, which provides the data the ranking is based on, asked respondents to evaluate their current life as a whole using the image of a ladder, with the best possible life for them as a 10 and worst possible as a 0.

While the ranking is only based on people’s answers rating their own lives, experts use these factors to help explain the differences across nations and over time: GDP, life expectancy, having someone to count on, a sense of freedom, generosity and perceptions of corruption.

‘Striking results’: Rankings by age group

For the first time, the report has given separate rankings by age group, which tells a different story from the overall ranking.

While Finland may be the happiest country overall, it only ranks seventh for children and young people aged below 30. Lithuania takes out the top spot on that ranking.

Older people are happier in Finland, with the country considered the second happiest among people aged over 60. Denmark is the happiest.

The report shows older people are much happier in Australia and New Zealand than young people too.

The ranking of happiness for people over 60 puts Australia in ninth place and New Zealand in sixth.

However, on the ranking for people aged below 30, Australia slides down ten spots to 19th place, while New Zealand is 27th.

The report found those born before 1965 are, on average, happier than those born after 1980. For Millennials, evaluation of their life drops with each year of age, while Boomers life satisfaction increases with age.

Professor John F. Helliwell, a founding editor of the World Happiness Report, said the results this year were “pretty striking”.

“There is a great variety among countries in the relative happiness of the younger, older, and in-between populations,” he said. “Hence the global happiness rankings are quite different for the young and the old, to an extent that has changed a lot over the last dozen years.”

Professor Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, an editor of the report and director of Oxford’s Wellbeing Research Centre, said: “Piecing together the available data on the wellbeing of children and adolescents around the world, we documented disconcerting drops especially in North America and Western Europe.

“To think that, in some parts of the world, children are already experiencing the equivalent of a midlife crisis demands immediate policy action.”

Finland will pay for people to visit

To celebrate Finland’s top ranking last year, the country’s tourism board paid for 10 people from across the world to visit and attend a four-day “masterclass of happiness” course at the Kuru Resort in the Finnish Lakeland region.

This year, Visit Finland is offering an urban experience in the country’s capital, Helsinki.

Chosen participants will have their flights and accommodation covered, and attend a curated five-day “Helsinki Happiness Hacks” experience between June 9 and 14.

The program is designed around four themes: nature and lifestyle, health and balance, design and everyday, and food and wellbeing. Activities will include nature activities, island life, sauna, foraging and campfire food.

The application involves a sign-up form and a social media challenge, where entrants have to share a video of their own happiness hack. Applications are open until April 4, local time.

Heli Jimenez, senior director of international marketing at Business Finland, said they believe people who have happiness should share it.

“We are excited to invite people from around the world to learn about our Finnish keys and hacks to happiness,” she said.

“In 2023, we invited global happiness seekers to the world’s first happiness masterclass and this year we are thrilled to share an authentic slice of Finnish urban happiness in Helsinki from our own Helsinki Happiness Hackers.”

The “Helsinki Happiness Hackers” are five locals who will share their tips and tricks for happiness in the city.

There is Lena Salmi, a 70-year old skateboard enthusiast and passionate swimmer, and Luka Balac, a chef and owner of several restaurants.

The other “hackers” include wellbeing expert and biologist Adela Pajunen, designer Tero Kuitunen, and Tapio Hakanen, also known as DJ Orkidea.

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