Skip navigation

Article categories: Archive News

The people of Vaasa are surprisingly happy amid the corona crisis - their goal is to become the happiest inhabitants of Finland

Published: 19.3.2021

The results of the Vaasa happiness survey were surprising with its positivity. More than half, or 52% of respondents, felt that corona had even had some positive effects on them or that their life situation remained unchanged. The goal of the city is to have the happiest inhabitants in Finland.

According to the UN Happiness Report, Finland is once again the happiest country in the world. Vaasa, for its part, has set a goal of being the happiest city in the world’s happiest country.

As this ambitious goal, recorded in the city’s strategy, must be measurable and evaluated, a survey of residents was therefore conducted in late 2020. The aim of the survey was to find out the level of happiness experienced by the people of Vaasa and their satisfaction with the services provided by the city. A total of 478 residents responded to the survey, and more than half of the respondents were aged 26-50.

Based on the results, the people of Vaasa are surprisingly happy even in the middle of the corona pandemic. On a scale of 0-100, the number measuring the happiness of Vaasa residents is 73.

– Happiness among Vaasa residents is a little higher than what I have found in previous studies. The mean values in different samples have generally ranged from 68 to 70. In addition, most of the people of Vaasa say that they think life will recover after corona, says professor emeritus of psychology, Markku Ojanen, who is happily guiding the City of Vaasa.

According to the study, the feeling of happiness in Vaasa is due to its safe living environment and faith in the future, among other areas. Exercise, voluntary work and association activities are also clearly linked to happiness.

Young people are less happy – happiness, however, lies in their own hands

The results of the survey correspond to the results of the national Youth Barometer, which highlights the worse situation of young people compared to the older population. According to the survey, the figure measuring happiness among those under 25 was 65, while the corresponding figure for those over 50 rose to 75.5 (on a scale of 0-100).

– The young people’s responses clearly showed the perception that happiness lies in their own hands. Among the negative things, the young people felt the demands of efficiency, their own shyness and general insecurity, said Ojanen.

Solid actions and tips for improving happiness

The services provided by the city play an important role in promoting the happiness of residents, as the core mission of the city is residents’ wellbeing. The wide range of cultural offerings, sports services, nature trails and education are solid examples of services that affect the happiness of residents.

– As the goal of having happy residents is written into the strategy, the measures are also strongly considered with this goal in mind. Basic services must be in order, but in addition to that, we really want the residents to feel good, says Mayor Tomas Häyry.

For this reason, Happiness Professor Ojanen’s tips on how everyone can promote their own happiness have been distributed to residents. In addition, Ojanen has given lectures on happiness to both city employees and the region’s residents.

– According to the study, happiness tips have been of real benefit. More than 80% of those who saw the happiness tips said they had used them and felt that they had also been useful in their own lives. This says that it is worth continuing to share tips, rejoices Ojanen.

The tips given for promoting happiness are simple, accessible to everyone, and suitable for the corona time, such as moving around in the nature and borrowing books.

– Studies have shown that doing good deeds to others increases happiness. And this, if anything, is a concrete deed suitable for the corona time, where happiness actually grows. If you’re asked for one happiness tip that I’d recommend, it’s exactly this. Do good to others!

Other people’s company, the nature and culture help fight depression

The study also asked residents about their own ways to make it easier to fight depression.

– Other people’s company and movement in the nature came out on top. Third, most feelings of happiness were drawn from culture. It is pleasing to see how many people in Vaasa feel that they have their own ways to improve their mood, says Ojanen.

Happiness professor Markku Ojanen states that even in the midst of difficulties, people from Vaasa have the ability to see the good things in life.

– Although some Vaasa residents face difficulties and problems in their lives, wellbeing is still perceived as being at a high level. This indicates the good adaptability of Vaasa residents. However, if there are enough positive things in life then the feeling of experiencing difficulties and problems is reduced, sums up Ojanen.

Background and information about the survey:

The survey was conducted as an online survey open to everyone from 6-20 December, 2020. A total of 478 Vaasa residents from all age groups responded to the survey. The survey was conducted as an online survey, so it is not a random sample. However, a comparison with the key background variables describing urban dwellers (education, age and occupation) showed that the results are very representative of Vaasa residents.

In terms of age distribution, the distribution of respondents describes the age distribution of Vaasa residents quite well. Women, on the other hand, were overrepresented in the survey, which is normal in open-ended surveys. The subject of the survey could also be one that interested more women.

The analysis of the survey was conducted by Markku Ojanen, Professor Emeritus of Happiness. The survey will be repeated at the end of 2021 in order to monitor the development of residents’ happiness.