Why are some countries happier than others?

In the current edition of the World Happiness Report European countries, led by Finland, occupy the top nine places. But even within Europe, certain countries have fallen far behind their neighbours or dropped several places compared to previous rankings. Commentators look at why.

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Sme (SK) /

The happiness of the young is a real boon

Commentator Jindřich Šídlo is delighted with the Czech Republic's 18th place, ahead of countries like Germany, Britain and France. He comments in Sme:

“Perhaps even more interesting is that young Czechs are actually among the top ten happiest people in the world. This could be attributed to the relatively easy access to soft drugs, but that alone would probably not explain this entirely. Still, this is some of the best news we could receive. The Czech Republic, for example, is not having anything like the problems other post-communist countries are having with the exodus of young, talented minds.”

Les Echos (FR) /

Proximity could be a factor

Les Echos reflects on the relation between France's 27th place and the country's centralised system:

“A glance at the experts' work reveals that the top ten countries in the ranking are small (Finland, Denmark, Iceland, etc.), and this holds true right down to 20th place (the UK). Small is happy? Sociologists could tell us whether trust is stronger in these countries because it is nurtured by proximity. Our vertical political system in which everything can be traced back to the Elysée Palace would tend to have the opposite effect.”

Diena (LV) /

It's also a question of attitude

Diena seeks to explain why Latvia is so often behind its Baltic neighbours in various rankings:

“This is nothing new. Nor is the fact that certain people always react by saying 'The government is to blame!‘ ... However, politicians in Lithuania and Estonia also make peculiar decisions. So why are things better there? Observations suggest that Estonia and Lithuania are better at focusing on their strengths, successes and talents. ... Moreover, both Lithuanians and Estonians have proved better at breaking free from the patterns of the 20th century and adapting to the 21st. If there's a shortage of labour, they find technological solutions. If they want more inhabitants in the countryside, they develop the infrastructure. ... This understanding of the situation doesn't just depend on the government but on society as a whole.”