In Ruchir Shama’s opinion piece last month, he wrote about recent efforts to move “beyond…
The world happiness report takes into account a lot of different aspects of each country when deciding which country has the happiest people. For the past three years, Finland has been at the top of world happiness. Supposedly, the Finish people are the happiest people in the world, not only are the Finish people very happy in their home country but the people who immigrate to Finland are known to be very happy there as well. Gallup conducts a happiness world poll every year which is based on six factors: GDP per capita; social support; life expectancy; freedom to make life choices; generosity; and corruption levels.
The Generosity Factor
Every year Finland scores high in all factors and especially high in the generosity factor. Nearly half of all people in Finland give money back to charity regularly and one-third of the Finish population volunteers their time. Though their GDP is not the highest, the combination of personal freedoms and social safety nets raise their happiness level well above their fellow Nordic countries which are all pretty high on the world happiness poll. The United States has the highest GDP in the world and yet we rank at 19, one down from last year, on the world happiness poll. This just backs up the expression money does not buy happiness. Generosity seems to be one of the main reasons some countries are higher on the world happiness scale than others.
The United States has a lower generosity rate than Finland. In fact, the amount of people who donate their money to charity has been going down in the last 15 years by at least 13%. On top of that only 25% of the country volunteers their time to help other people. These numbers keep decreasing while it is the opposite for the Nordic countries like Finland. While generosity is not the most important aspect of happiness making other people happy is definitely a way of raising the happiness of our country a significant amount. Generosity will increase the psychological well being of everyone involved while also having an impact on material wellbeing, which are two of the domains of Gross National Happiness. If we want there to be change in our countries happiness, it starts by making other people happy.