Why are Finns Happier Than Americans?
The fact has shown that living in a country with a top economy does not necessarily make you happy. A recent report by the World Happiness Report Gallup World Poll points to Finns as the happiest people in the world. Several other reports put Americas on the 8th, 19th or even 23rd positions in the last few years while Finns have consistently maintained the number 1 spot. Why are Finns happier than Americans? Come along as we discuss this.
Finland and America are at one time two of the wealthiest nations of the world and the two nations have not experienced any significant drop in the ranking considering the impressive GDP. But money cannot buy happiness. Still, money counts so much in achieving higher standards of living. In turn, happiness follows a meaningful life. How do things pan out for Finns in this regard?
The Finns average household net adjusted disposable income a year per capita is USD 29 943. This may not be the highest on average but the cost of living is much higher in the US than in Finland. This has obliterated any possible difference in per capita disposable incomes of the two nations. Americans spend multiple folds than Finns.
Also contributing to the satisfaction of income is the fact that 70% of working-class people, (people aged 15 to 64) in Finland have a well-paid job. This is above the OECD employment average given at 68%. About 72% of men are in paid work while 69% of women are fully employed. Finns enjoy the proceeds from their work as only 4% of adults work very long hours—6 % of men and just 2% of women. This should be understood in view of the fact that people with a good education have good skills which are important requisites for finding a good job.
Another positive score for Finland is achieved in the aspect of the education system. Based on the worldwide evaluation by Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), Finland scores higher than the US. Some 88% of adults Finns aged 25-64 complete upper secondary education. This is higher than the OECD average of 78%. About 85% of men in Finland are in this highly educated class while 91% of women are there. The percent is less desirable in American society.
Finland is among the top-performing countries in terms of the quality of the educational system. The average Finn student scored 523 in reading literacy, mathematics, and sciences in the OECD’s PISA. This is much higher than the average of 486 on the OECD data. The American students score 460. Again, in Finland, females outperformed males in this score by 24 points.
Health Care System
Finland’s health system is cheaper and more accessible than that of Americans. While health-care facilities are high or even higher quality in the US, it is all-encompassing in Finland. The responsibilities for health services are being shifted from municipal governments to larger governmental entities. This good health results in a higher life expectancy. Finns’ average life expectancy at birth is 82 years. For women, life expectancy is 84 years while it is 79 for men. Americans do not live that long.
This longevity is due to lower atmospheric pollution which is much lower than the heavily industrialised societies in the US. The United water quality is also no match for that of Finland.
The pension system provides another basis of happiness among aged Finns. While all countries including the US make effort to make the pension worthwhile for their citizens, Finland’s pension system makes pensioners completely independent and generally insulates them against poverty during old age. There are ongoing reforms to address fiscal concerns to make monetary and fiscal policies more pension-friendly. The security of the future guaranteed by this is a big factor of happiness among the Finns.
The immigration programme of Finland gives preference to the welfare of the Finns. Immigrants are not given the level ground to compete with natives in the labour market. Still, there are relatively favourable attitudes toward immigration. In the United States, there is no restriction on how immigrants can compete in the labour market. So Americans are not happy to be losing their jobs to the immigrants. On the other hand, immigrants in the United States are saddened by the citizens’ attitudes toward them.
Finland has a generally stronger safety net which ranks the country among the top group internationally. The country scores much higher than the United States in the area of social policies. There is a strong sense of community reliance and in Finland as opposed to dispassionate societies in most of the American communities. 95% of Finns believe that there is someone they can call and rely on in times of distress. Fewer Americans can make this claim.
These and many more reasons explain why Finns are generally happier than Americans.