Consider these facts: Finland is claimed to the best country to live in the face of the earth (Newsweek), Helsinki the most liveable city (Monocle) and the country has the best education system in the world (Pisa). At the same time, Finland tops the ranking-lists as the country with most suicides. How can this be explained?
In recent paper published in Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, the authors argue that “it is all relative”: in a mob of happy people, the misery of the unhappy ones is amplified, hence the suicides.
As it turns out, also the myth about Finland as a country of sad people may be also wrong. According to a OECD report, Finland ranks as the #2 country in terms how happy people report themselves to be. This appears to be more due to relative lack of negative feelings, rather than due to excessive amounts of positive feelings.
But hey, lets not get too cocky and forget about what Israel defence minister Ehud Barak said about Finland here.
Daly MC et al (2011) Dark contrasts: The paradox of high rates of suicide in happy places. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization 54: 89-109