The Netherlands Amongst Most Happy Countries in the World
In a difficult year, the World Happiness Report 2021 ranks the Netherlands in global top five
The annual report published by the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Solutions Network ranks well-being and happiness in countries all over the world. After a difficult year of living with the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Happiness Report 2021 looks at the relationship between well-being and virus. The Netherlands ranks fifth in 2021 results, climbing one spot compared to the results of last year’s report. Combined with UNICEF reporting that Dutch children are most satisfied with their lives and the OECD ranking the Netherlands best for work-life balance, this year’s World Happiness Report again underscores the Dutch quality of life. Other countries making up the rest of the top five are Finland, Iceland, Denmark and Switzerland. The rankings overall remained very similar to last year.
Unexpectedly, no decline in well-being
This year’s report finds a surprising resilience in how people rate their overall well-being. “Surprisingly there was not, on average, a decline in well-being when measured by people’s own evaluation of their lives,” said John Helliwell, one the authors of the report. “One possible explanation is that people see COVID-19 as a common, outside threat affecting everybody and that this has generated a greater sense of solidarity and fellow-feeling.”
The World Happiness Report marks countries on GDP per capita, social support, healthy life expectancy, freedom to make live choices, generosity and perceptions of corruption in government and business. The Netherlands scores well on social structures, generosity and on GDP per capita and discerns low levels of perceptions of corruption. These scores result in a high level of trust and benevolence, both important contributors to feelings of well-being.
Assessing impact of COVID-19 on happiness
“We need urgently to learn from Covid-19,” said Jeffrey Sachs from Columbia University and one of the authors of the report. “The pandemic reminds us of our global environmental threats, the urgent need to cooperate, and the difficulties of achieving cooperation in each country and globally. The World Happiness Report 2021 reminds us that we must aim for well-being rather than mere wealth, which will be fleeting indeed if we don’t do a much better job of addressing the challenges of sustainable development.”
About the World Happiness Report
The report is a publication of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, set up by the United Nations to promote integrated approaches to implement the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, through education, research, policy analysis, and global cooperation. The World Happiness Report is based on data from the Gallup World Poll and Lloyd’s Register Foundation, who provided access to the World Risk Poll.
The 2021 Report also includes data from the ICL-YouGov Behaviour Tracker as part of the COVID Data Hub. This year’s Happiness Report was faced with a unique challenge in trying to understand what effect the pandemic has had on subjective well-being and vice versa. Of all the factors usually supporting happiness, the most important for explaining COVID-19 death rates were people’s trust in each other, and confidence in their governments. This year, because of its aim to understand the influence of the pandemic, the report focussed on data of 2020 only, compared to compiled data of three years in reports in the past.