The 2021 World Happiness Report ranked Finland, for the fourth year running, the world’s happiest country. The ‘Nordic Model’ has long been touted as the aspiration for social and public policy in Europe and North America, but what is it about Finland that makes the country so successful and seemingly such a great place to live? Is it simply the level of government spending on health, education and welfare? Is it that Finland has one of the lowest rates of social inequality and childhood poverty, and highest levels of literacy and education?
Finland clearly has problems of its own – for example, a high level of gun ownership and high rates of suicide – which can make Finns sceptical of their ranking, but its consistently high performance across a range of wellbeing indicators raises fascinating questions. In the quest for the best of all possible societies, Danny Dorling, Halford Mackinder Professor of Geography at the University of Oxford and co-author of Finntopia, explores what we might learn from Finnish success and Nordic wellbeing with Katja Pantzar, journalist and author of Finding Sisu and the recently published Everyday Sisu: Tapping Into Finnish Fortitude for a Happier, More Resilient Life, and Finnish Ambassador Jukka Siukosaari. In conversation with Andy Fryers.