Why are Norwegians among the happiest people in the world? 

Even though the news has been mostly depressing over the past two years, Norway's residents have remained relatively happy among all the gloom, and the country constantly ranks among the happiest on Earth. 

A person sat looking at a fjord.
The World Happiness Report for 2022 has ranked Norway among the top 10 happiest countries in the world. Pictured is somebody by one of Norway's fjords. Photo by redcharlie on Unsplash

For the 10th year running, Norwegians have been ranked among the most content people on Earth by the World Happiness Report, a publication of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network that draws on global survey data from people in about 150 countries.

In the recently released 2022 edition, Norway is ranked eight globally, one below neighbours Sweden and five places behind Denmark. 

Why is Norway rated so highly? 

Happiness is subjective and inherent to each individual, meaning it can’t be measured scientifically.

“Our measurement of subjective well-being continues to rely on three main indicators: life evaluations, positive emotions, and negative emotions”, the report said. “Happiness rankings are based on life evaluations as the more stable measure of the quality of people’s lives,” the report stated. 

Researchers used seven categories to assess each country’s contentment level: Dystopia (evaluating how much better life is in a given country in comparison to ones with bad living conditions); perception of corruption in a country; generosity; freedom to make life choices; healthy life expectancy; social support; and GDP per capita.

Overall, Norway was rated 7.365 out of 10 for happiness. The global average was 5.53 in 2021. 

Norway ranks exceptionally well- (better than its Nordic neighbours Finland, Iceland, Denmark and Sweden) in terms of its GDP. The country also fares well in the “social support” category and the “life expectancy” one. Another area where the country excels is in the “freedom to make life choices” category. 

The country does less well in the “generosity” (as do most countries) and “perception of corruption” categories. 

Are Norwegians becoming less happy? 

In 2017, Norway was named the happiest country in the world. But since then, the country has fallen down the rankings somewhat. To make matters even more interesting is that some of Norway’s neighbours have maintained or improved their rankings. 

Finland has been named the world’s happiest country five times since 2017, while Norway has dopped seven places. 

In an analysis of the World Happiness for 2022, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH) noted that quality of life among young people was of particular concern. 

READ MORE: Why are young people in Norway less happy with life?

“Of particular concern are figures for adolescents and young adults. As in other countries, the quality of life in Norway is also unevenly distributed, and there are a number of vulnerable groups,” the report stated

The analysis also found that Norway was falling behind its neighbours when it came to quality of life. 

“There are thus some signs that the subjective quality of life in Norway has fallen somewhat in recent years, at least compared with countries with which we usually compare ourselves,” the report noted. 

Although one thing worth pointing out is that Norwegian’s happiness overall has remained relatively stable over the past decade. Since 2012 the country’s satisfaction with life has been between 7.4 and 7.6 out of 10. 

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‘Mainly positive’ Norwegian experiences with immigrants linked to softening views

Norwegians have become more and more accepting of foreigners over the last two decades, a new study has revealed.

Pictured is somebody atop a mountain in Senja
Norwegians are becoming increasingly positive towards immigration, a new survey has revealed. Pictured is somebody atop a mountain in Senja.

Norwegians have increasingly positive views of foreigners and are becoming more open to the benefits of immigration, analysis from Statistics Norway has found.

The analysis follows the stats agency’s annual survey on attitudes towards immigration in which the number of participants who view immigration favourably again grew.

Since 2002, the public’s outlook on immigration has consistently become more positive, except for in 2015, which saw an influx of asylum seekers into the country following a refugee crisis.

“At the same time, as more positive attitudes are expressed, we see that there has been more contact with immigrants. Most people who have contact with immigrants state that they mainly have positive experiences with them,” Frøydis Strøm, senior advisor at Statistics Norway, said in the report.

As part of this year’s survey, the public was asked whether the pandemic and travel restrictions had made them more sceptical of labour immigration. A large majority, 59 percent, said the pandemic hadn’t changed their views on foreign labour. However, 29 percent did say Covid made them view labour immigration with a more critical eye.

Additionally, 80 percent of respondents said that immigrants made a valuable contribution to working life, and seven out of ten said that immigration from outside the Nordics contributed positively to the economy.

For the first time, the proportion of those who thought it should be easier for refugees to settle was higher than those who thought the rules should be tighter. However, a majority was still in favour of keeping immigration and integration rules as they are.

The public was more split on whether immigrants should try to become “more Norwegian”. Just under half said they disagreed with the idea that foreigners should be more like the locals, while 32 percent agreed.

In its analysis of the long-term trends and changes in attitudes towards immigrants, Statistics Norway noted that women were more likely to have more favourable views on immigration than men. Young people and those living in built-up areas were also more receptive to foreign residents than older people and those living in rural communities.