The statistics are envious and hurt, even more when compared to the harsh reality that Argentina is experiencing. The high indices of human quality, low corruption, insecurity and poverty, along with many other factors, made for the fourth consecutive year Finland have been elected as the happiest country in the world to live. What are the secrets? Is it possible to start to follow the same path?
“Happiness is the result of an egalitarian and well-governed society, where people enjoy high levels of personal freedom, trust institutions and themselves,” he sums up. Kirsi Vanamo-Santacruz, the ambassador of that country in Argentina during an interview with TN.com.ar, to later add: “Finland has the best governance in the world, it is one of the most transparent countries, it offers the greatest political and civil freedom, and it is the most just country socially ”.
Although it is true that many times the culture of each country and the way they live collaborate to improve social well-being, there is no doubt that achieving continuous growth and stability in that sense requires a long-term commitment and work, something that many times it is so difficult to find in the Argentine political leadership.
Precisely, in the same sense, and before the question of what does Argentina need to start on the road to happiness, The ambassador did not hesitate to affirm that “the key to happiness is confidence and the feeling that people can influence their own lives.” As he explains, it seems to be something simple, but it is not, especially when “there is a risk of misleading trust”. When it breaks, it’s hard to go back. And when the lack of confidence is repeated for decades, even more complex.
“It is a great project that needs time, perseverance, patience and, above all, the ability to generate commitments,” he adds. Kirsi Vanamo-Santacruz. This work that could seem invisible to the eyes of political campaigns and electoral announcements ends up generating “a virtuous spiral that feeds itself socially and economically” that translates into “educated and critical citizens” capable of thinking about the development and cooperation of a country.
All of them are elements that are not measured in a survey or with statistics. But they are fundamental pillars of a “happy country”. In any case, the indices of this Nordic European country of just over 5 million inhabitants can become the envy even of the members of the European Union themselves.
On the one hand, while the economic policies of the euro zone seek to maintain inflation at around 2% per year, estimates indicate that this year it will reach 3%, while the of Finland will be 1.8%. Minimal. On the other hand, this small state, which is covered almost entirely by forests and water reserves, has an unemployment rate of around 7%.
What happens, then, with poverty, for example. “Finland is a prosperous country whose welfare system guarantees that no one falls out of society, that there are no people who have unsatisfied basic needs,” says the diplomatic representative in Argentina. This is how the Finns consider that poverty is not about starving or not having to pay rent, they speak of “relative poverty”, which is the population that would be – hypothetically – in difficulty to meet certain expenses.
That it is well understood, it is not a tangible, factual poverty. It is hypothetical, about what could happen. In any case, the ambassador admits that since the late 1990s and early 2000s that relative poverty and inequality “grew”, in addition to the fact that “income disparities remained.”
In this context of the welfare state, Finland carried out an experiment years ago on whether fixed financial assistance discouraged the search for work. They wanted to prevent a person from receiving a certain sum of money month after month from discouraging work. It was not so. The Finnish government studied it for two years and concluded that, despite receiving fixed state aid, citizens “were still interested in getting ahead and looking for work”.
Finally, and about what perhaps one of the greatest concerns for Argentines means, Finland enjoys almost full security. Another fundamental element to make it the happiest country in the world to live in. In the last 10 years there were on average between 73 and 110 homicides a year. If you compare him, for example, with Rosario, the difference is appalling. In the city of Santa Fe in 2020 alone there were 212 murders. The differences are many, the contexts too.
In that sense, and recalling the comment of the former Minister of National Security Sabina Frederic, when asked if it is boring to live in the happiest country where everything seems to be relatively well, the ambassador laughed and replied: “No, on the contrary, it is a huge pleasure. You can be sure of how everything works. You can live in peace in your daily life. You have firm ground, you have a rock under your feet”.
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