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These Are the 20 Happiest Countries, According to the World Happiness Report 2024

Sadly, the U.S. is no longer one of them.

<p>Olezzo/Getty Images</p>

Olezzo/Getty Images

The World Happiness Report was first launched in 2012 to help evaluate happiness within countries to determine their social progress. This year, the report evaluated the happiness of people throughout the world in different age groups averaged over the years 2021 through 2023. Researchers looked at how individuals assessed their lives according to six key factors: GDP per capita, social support, healthy life expectancy, freedom, generosity, and corruption.

While Finland is the most happy country in the world for another year, several of the rankings fluctuated since the last report of this kind. Most notably, the U.S. is no longer one of the top happiest countries, as it dropped from 15 to 23, marking the first time it was not in the top 20 since 2012.

Here's a look at the top 20 happiest countries, and you can view the report for the full list:

  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

Related: 7 Science-Backed Secrets to Healthy Longevity

How the Top 20 Changed in 2024

The top 10 countries haven’t budged too much this year, with Finland coming in first and Denmark immediately following for another year. But the top 20 changed a good deal. Several eastern European countries rose in the ranks, including Czechia and Lithuania (and Slovenia at 21), which booted the U.S. from its post and also caused Germany to drop from 16 to 24. New to the lineup is Costa Rica, which came in at 12, and Kuwait following at 13.

Happiness by Age Group

Society tends to tell us that the older we get, the less happy we become. However, this latest report found that wasn’t always the case. The findings show that there is a huge difference in happiness between age groups within countries. The level of happiness for young people dropped significantly in North America, making older generations the happier of the two groups. For example, the U.S. ranked as the 10th happiest country in the world for those aged 60 or older, but ranked all the way down at 63rd for individuals younger than 30.

Related: 7 Consistent Habits of People Who Age Well

Why Did the U.S. Drop In Ranking?

Happiness has decreased in all age groups within the U.S. and many other countries, including Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. However, the decline is even more prevalent in the younger generations, and even greater in women than men. This is a stark difference from what we saw in the years 2006 to 2010, when young people were happier than those in midlife and just about as happy as those 60 or older.

Women also self-report experiencing more frequent negative emotions than men in the U.S.—even more so for those under age 30—while less frequent for those in older generations.

The U.S. is also dealing with a loneliness epidemic, especially those in younger generations, which can impact social support, the quality of social interactions, and overall life satisfaction.

While that all sounds bleak, there are things we can all do enrich our social lives and feel more positive emotions. Try incorporating more of these activities in your life for a mood boost:

  • Focus on gratitude

  • Go volunteer in your community

  • Spend more time with friends and family who make you feel supported and energized

  • Practice acts of kindness for others (those bids for social connection are good for both the giver and recipient!)

  • Try journaling

  • Experience nature regularly (especially near water)

  • Boost your serotonin with regular exercise and a healthy diet

  • Get plenty of sleep

  • Join a group like a book club, exercise class, art class, or language learning class to engage with new people

  • Consider seeing a therapist for additional support

Related: 6 Everyday Habits to Train Your Brain to Be Happier

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