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What's the Happiest Country on Earth?
World

What's the Happiest Country on Earth?

by and

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The latest has some unhappy news for Americans.

For the first time in the report’s 12-year history, the U.S. didn’t earn a spot among the top 20 happiest countries in the world. It’s No. 23 -- down from a 15th-place finish the previous year.

The report, which ranks countries by age group for the first time, shows the U.S. decline is at least partly attributable to Americans under age 30 feeling worse about their lives. The U.S. still ranks in the top 10 countries for those 60 and older, with a score of 7.258 out of 10. But for those under 30, it ranks 62nd, with a score of 6.392.

While the U.S. lost ground, Finland retained its crown as the happiest country in the world for the seventh straight year. But it wasn’t No. 1 for those under 30 or over 60. Lithuania and Denmark, respectively, took those honors.

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The differences in the rankings by age illustrate how people’s life satisfaction ratings -- which determine the rankings -- vary a lot between the world’s young and old.

In places like the U.S. and Canada, for example, rankings for those 60 and older are at least 50 places higher than for those under 30. However, in many countries, particularly those in Central and Eastern Europe, the reverse is true: The young are happier than the old.

But this has not always been the case. Between 2006 and 2010, young people in Northern America and Australia/New Zealand were just as happy as old people. Their life satisfaction has declined sharply since then, from 7.451 to 6.676 in the latest calculation.

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Happiness Inequality Is Getting Worse Nearly Everywhere for All Ages

The latest report also has some unhappy news for the rest of the world.

At the global level, the standard deviation of the distribution of happiness, also known as “happiness inequality,” has increased by more than 20% over the past dozen years.
This increase matters because research shows such inequality has a bigger effect on overall happiness than income inequality does. And, people are happier living in countries where happiness equality is greater.

Since 2006 to 2010, happiness inequality has increased in almost every region except Western Europe. The biggest overall increase is in sub-Saharan Africa, where it swelled by more than 50% in all age groups.

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Inequality among those 60 and older is currently largest in Latin America and the Caribbean, followed by sub-Saharan Africa. For those under 30, inequality of happiness is by far the greatest in sub-Saharan Africa.

How Much Does Happiness Matter?

 

Almost 20 years ago, 鶹ýAV began working to build global statistics on how humanity feels -- about the day, their job and their life. The questions featured in the latest World Happiness Report reflect one of the largest attempts to help the world answer that exact question.

This year’s report focuses on the happiness of people at different stages of life, showing the relationship that we knew existed between age and happiness is far more nuanced than previously thought, and it is changing.

These nuances and changes, more than which country is No. 1 or No. 101, show where the world’s happiness is headed -- whether to the top of the mountain or off a cliff. While the rankings get the headlines, the trends reinforce why it is important to keep asking people how they feel, and to keep digging deeper.

Find out what else happiness researchers found in this year’s .

The World Happiness Report is published under a partnership among , Oxford’s .  the UN  and the WHR Editorial Board.

To stay up to date with the latest 鶹ýAV News insights and updates, .

For complete methodology and specific survey dates, please review .

Learn more about how the works.


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