Czechia edges out Italy, France, and Spain in 2022 World Happiness Report

This year’s findings show an increase in acts of goodwill the world over amid tough times and addresses changing conceptions of happiness.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 18.03.2022 17:00:00 (updated on 18.03.2022) Reading time: 3 minutes

Measuring happiness isn’t easy, but the World Happiness Report, compiled each year by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, is seen as one of the most reliable studies into quality of life the world over.

The latest edition of the report examined happiness amid tumultuous times in 2021. Following years of Covid restrictions and pandemic-related loss of life, and now faced with uncertainty brought about by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Czech Republic has stayed among the world's top twenty happiest countries.

Ranking eighteenth out of 146 countries evaluated in the survey, the Czech Republic has fallen two places since last year’s report. But it’s still one of the happiest countries in Central and Eastern Europe; the only regional neighbors to score higher were Austria and Germany, in eleventh and fourteenth place respectively.

As usual, the top spots were taken by the Nordic countries. Finland came first, Denmark second, and Iceland third. These countries tend to focus on developing the qualities evaluated by the study creators as indicative of happiness: healthy life expectancy, high GDP per capita, social support in times of trouble, low corruption and high social trust, public generosity, and freedom to make key life decisions.

The report also provides an in-depth examination of global trends related to happiness. In a heart-warming result, this year’s findings show an increase in acts of goodwill the world over amid tough times.

“The big surprise was that globally, in an uncoordinated way, there have been very large increases in all the three forms of benevolence that are asked about in the Gallup World Poll,” John Helliwell, one of the report’s three founding editors, told CNN.

These three types of benevolence cover donating to charities, helping strangers, and volunteering. It’s clear that the stresses and strains of the pandemic brought out the best in people as they looked to provide help to those in need.

Levels of stress were meanwhile found to have dipped compared to 2020, and although they were still up 4 percent compared to pre-pandemic times, people clearly felt more at ease than they did the previous year, when a stress increase of 8 percent was reported.

Now, the war in Ukraine is further strengthening traits of public spiritedness in the Czech Republic. Czechs have been among the world’s leading contributors to the Ukrainian fight for freedom, with over CZK 1.5 billion donated to humanitarian aid initiatives and hundreds of millions donated to a special fundraiser for the Ukrainian army.

The report meanwhile tackles the thorny issue of our changing conceptions of happiness. Based on an analysis of phrases used in online searches related to wellbeing, the researchers found that happiness is increasingly linked with subjective ideas such as “life satisfaction” and “subjective wellbeing,” while associations with material considerations such as income and GDP are getting weaker.

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The most unhappy country in the world, according to the report, is Afghanistan. The Taliban takeover of the country last year plunged Afghans back into religious fundamentalism while providing “a stark reminder of the material and immaterial damage that war does to its many victims,” according to Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, an editor of the report.

The Czech Republic’s top-twenty position cements positive evaluations of the country made in other recent reports. Time Out magazine named Prague one of the world’s top ten cities last year, while the Czech capital has also been named one of the world’s top-ten student cities and the best city in Europe to visit with kids.

The world's top twenty happiest countries:

1. Finland
2. Denmark
3. Iceland
4. Switzerland
5. Netherlands
6. Luxembourg
7. Sweden
8. Norway
9. Israel
10. New Zealand
11. Austria
12. Australia
13. Ireland
14. Germany
15. Canada
16. United States
17. United Kingdom
18. Czechia (Czech Republic)
19. Belgium
20. France

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