What Are the Happiest Countries in the World?

By: Yara Simón  | 
Why are some of the world's happiest countries also some of the coldest? Borisenkov Andrei / Getty Images

How do you measure the happiness of a country? Is it through the benefits afforded to citizens, the weather or the number of opportunities available? This is a question the World Happiness Report has tackled since 2012 to report on the happiest countries in the world.

A partnership among the U.N. Sustainable Development Solutions Network, Gallup, the Oxford Wellbeing Research Centre and World Happiness Report's editorial board, the yearly report bases its rankings on six factors.


The Happiest Country in the World

For the seventh year in a row, Finland ranked as the world's happiest country. For 2024, it had an average life evaluation score of 7.741.


The World's Happiest Countries in 2024

These are the top 20 happiest countries in the world in 2024, according to the report.

  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


6 Factors to Measure Happiness

The report uses life evaluations that the Gallup World Poll gathered. Participants answer a series of questions and rank them from zero, or "the worst possible life," to 10, or "the best possible life," based on their own experiences.

Data from a span of three years informs the report's results, which measures six factors.


  1. GDP per capita: While the U.N. General Assembly said that GDP per capita is not a predictor of happiness, it is still something to consider. This year's report did not have 2023 GDP data available but used "country-specific forecasts of real GDP growth from the OECD Economic Outlook No. 113."
  2. Social support: This measures the participants' answer to the question, "If you were in trouble, do you have relatives or friends you can count on to help you whenever you need them, or not?"
  3. Healthy life expectancy: The report measures this factor through extrapolation and interpolation of data from the World Health Organization Global Health Observatory data repository.
  4. Freedom: The Gallup World Poll's research asks, "Are you satisfied or dissatisfied with your freedom to choose what you do with your life?"
  5. Generosity: This asks respondents, "Have you donated money to a charity in the past month?"
  6. Corruption: This factor accounts for two questions: "Is corruption widespread throughout the government or not? Is corruption widespread within businesses or not?"

4 Key Findings in 2024 World Happiness Report

Based on data from 2021 to 2023, here are a few findings from the 2024 World Happiness Report Rankings.

  • The top 10 remains relatively the same as last year.
  • The bigger changes took place in spots 11 to 20. The United States, for example, dropped from 15 to 23. Germany also saw a sharp change, from 16 in 2023 to 24 this year. This made room for new entrants in the top 20: Costa Rica and Kuwait.
  • Younger and older generations rank their happiness in their own lives differently. "In some cases these differences favor the old, as in the United States and Canada, where the ranking for those aged 60 and older are 50 or more places higher than for those under 30," according to the report.
  • Serbia and Bulgaria have had some of the biggest increases in the last decade. Serbia went up 69 ranks from 2013 to 2024 and Bulgaria rose 63 ranks in the same time period.


Why the World Happiness Report Exists

The World Happiness Report exists to increase life satisfaction at the governmental level. As WHR notes, the report "reflects a worldwide demand for more attention to happiness and well-being as criteria for government policy."

In 2012, the same year as the first happiness report, the United Nations General Assembly drafted a note titled "Happiness: towards a holistic approach to development." In it, the organization notes that GDP alone is not a precise indicator of happiness or well-being.


While there is criticism that happiness is a luxury when facing other systemic issues and concerns that richer, more developed countries may skew the results, the General Assembly explains in the note that looking at happiness is necessary:

"The pursuit of happiness is a stated objective in many national constitutions, and the creation of an enabling environment for improving people’s well-being is a development goal in itself. Overall, there is no doubt that Governments need to revisit their priorities. In the face of persistent, extreme poverty, and global warming generated by current production systems, focusing on other measures of well-being beyond rising incomes can only be worthwhile. Moreover, some scholars argue that, as we already live in the Anthropocene Age, in which humans influence the Earth’s physical systems, the quest for happiness should be strongly linked to the quest for sustainable development. Lastly, with the progress of research on happiness, the evidence of its usefulness in policy design is gradually emerging."