Ranked: The 20 happiest countries in the world in 2024


Finland has done it again. The 2024 World Happiness Report is out, and for the seventh year in a row, Finland has been named the happiest country in the world.
Finland has taken out top spot in the list yet again. Image: Getty

But the news isn’t as good for the United States—which has hit a new low. The U.S. didn’t even make the top 20 list—the first time it has ranked so poorly since the World Happiness Report was created in 2012.

This annual report ranks global happiness in more than 140 countries around the world. The ranking is based on six factors—social support, income, health, freedom, generosity and absence of corruption—using data from sources including the Gallup World Poll. Released every year in honour of the International Day of Happiness on March 20, it is a partnership between several outlets including the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, Gallup and the Oxford Wellbeing Research Centre.

This year’s top 10 list is similar to past rankings in 2023202220212020 and 2019, with many of the Nordic countries in the highest spots. Denmark once again took the number two spot, followed by Iceland (number three) and Sweden (number four). Norway ranked number seven.

Last year, the United States came in at number 15. For 2024, the U.S. plummeted to number 23. Even countries like Costa Rica and Lithuania—new entrants to the top 20 list—ranked higher. The reason? Happiness is lower in the U.S., especially among younger people.

The list also looked at happiest places broken down by age. The world’s happiest country for people under 30? Lithuania. The U.S. didn’t fare as well: For people under 30, it ranked number 62.

The winner for people over 60: Denmark. The U.S. did better for this age group, coming in at number 10.

According to the report, the older population is now much happier than younger people in countries like Norway, Sweden, Germany, France, the United Kingdom and Spain. It’s the opposite in Portugal and Greece—where young residents are happier than older residents.

Australia came in at number 10. Image: Getty

There was also data showing that children are becoming less happy. “Piecing together the available data on the wellbeing of children and adolescents around the world, we documented disconcerting drops especially in North America and Western Europe. To think that, in some parts of the world, children are already experiencing the equivalent of a mid-life crisis demands immediate policy action,” Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, director of Oxford’s Wellbeing Research Centre, professor of economics and behavioural science at Saïd Business School and an editor of the World Happiness Report, said in a release.

Loneliness was another big trend noted in the report. “There is widespread concern, especially in the United States, about an emerging epidemic of loneliness, and about the consequences of loneliness for mental and physical health,” wrote the authors of the report. Though interestingly, it wasn’t the oldest residents that were experiencing loneliness: “North America loneliness is almost twice as high among the Millennials as among those born before 1965.”

One big surprise this year: Israel came in at number 5, despite the war with Hamas. But according to the authors of the report, the rankings are based on a three-year average, which can skew the numbers. (Israel has ranked in the top 10 on the happiness report since 2022.) “In the case of cataclysmic events happening during a particular year, their effect on the rankings will depend on when the survey took place, and will be muted by the three-year averaging,” wrote the authors of the report. “In the case of the October 7th attack on Israel and the subsequent war between Israel and Hamas, the survey in Palestine took place earlier in the year and the Israel survey after the hostage taking but before much of the subsequent warfare.”

At the bottom of the list for 2024 was Afghanistan, which—once again—was named the unhappiest country in the world. Rounding out the list of the five low-ranking countries were Lebanon, Lesotho, Sierra Leone and Congo.

Read on for the top 20 happiest countries in the world in 2024. You can see the entire list here.

World’s 20 Happiest Countries In 2024
  1. Finland
  2. Denmark
  3. Iceland
  4. Sweden
  5. Israel
  6. Netherlands
  7. Norway
  8. Luxembourg
  9. Switzerland
  10. Australia
  11. New Zealand
  12. Costa Rica
  13. Kuwait
  14. Austria
  15. Canada
  16. Belgium
  17. Ireland
  18. Czechia
  19. Lithuania
  20. United Kingdom

This article was first published on forbes.com and all figures are in USD.

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