CESAM’s researcher, happyologist Ilona Suojanen was interviewed by Yle (Finland's national public broadcasting company) for the national news, morning TV programme and radio show today, 28 March 2019. Finland was ranked as the happiest country in the world for the second time in a row in the World Happiness Report 2019, published today. The Netherlands was ranked 5th this year.
Suojanen elaborated how scientists had come to this conclusion using eight different indicators, including e.g. GDP and life expectancy, in addition to Gallup questions on freedom and corruption. She argued that these indicate that things are going well in Finland, but they do not necessarily lead to the happiness of Finnish citizens. “There is no clear causal evidence of any of these creating happiness. Also, happiness is much more complicated than that,” she said.
“Safety should be seen as one of the basic ingredients of happiness. We could also look at happiness from different approaches, such as: how meaningful each individual sees their role in the society, and what are the prosocial actions and behaviours in our society?” Suojanen said. She also remarked that these measurements are Western-biased, from an individualistic perspective, and based on Western happiness research.
When asked what she would say to Finns who are suspicious of Finland being the happiest country, she said: “It is perfectly fine to question these rankings, stir conversations and to demand policy makers to continue working on improving the wellbeing for all. But these kinds of results and news also give us the opportunity to really focus on things that are going well in Finland, and to be grateful for that. Gratitude also breeds happiness.”
Suojanen also suggested that instead of looking into minor differences between countries in the happiest top 10, it’s very important to focus on major differences between the countries in top 10 and the bottom 10 countries in the list, and to think what could be done so that the world can be a happier place for all.
More thoughts by Ilona on happiness rankings can be found in the CESAM’s blog.
Centre of Excellence in Public Safety Management, CESAM, at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University, aims to promote and foster the professional development and management of public safety organizations, on an international level. It targets a clear and direct impact of academic research on public and private sector organizations in the field of public safety. More information about CESAM's work can be found in blog posts about aspects of safety. The blog is intended to act as an introduction to the Centre’s work; to promote and foster the professional development and management of public safety organisations, and to give CESAM members a platform to share their observations and experiences as academics and citizens.