In Finland, a relatively egalitarian society, people tend not to be fixated on “keeping up with the Joneses”.
“People are often pretty good at social standards,” said Antti Kauppinen, professor of philosophy at the University of Helsinki. “That is based on the training; Everyone has access to a good education. Income and wealth differences are relatively small. “
David Pfister, an Austrian architect who lives in Oulunkyla, a suburb of Helsinki, said he would describe Finns as happy, but it was hard to tell if they were happy. “The baby has increased our happiness,” said his wife, Veera Yliniemi, a teacher. Another man in the same suburb, Janne Berliini, 49, said he was lucky enough. “I have work,” he said. “The basic things are fine.”
People in Finland also tend to have realistic expectations of their lives. But when something in life exceeds expectations, people will often act humbly, preferring a self-deprecating joke to boasting, said Sari Poyhonen, professor of linguistics at Jyvaskyla University. Finns, she said, are professionals at keeping their luck a secret.
This year’s report received little coverage in the Finnish news media. “Finland is still the happiest country in the world,” began a short article that appeared in the daily Ilta-Sanomat.
All of the top 10 countries – including the four other Nordic countries – have different political philosophies than the United States, # 14 on the list, behind Ireland and ahead of Canada. Lower happiness levels in the United States could be caused by social conflict, drug addiction, lack of access to health care, and income inequality, said Dr. Wang.
Things are far from perfect in Finland. As in other parts of the continent, right-wing nationalism is on the rise, and unemployment at 8.1 percent is higher than the average unemployment rate of 7.5 percent in the European Union.