Well-Being Mental Health

US inches up to 15th on list of happiest countries

The United States worked its way up the list as several countries fell in rankings.

Story at a glance

  • The latest World Happiness Report ranked the United States as the 15th happiest country. 

  • Findings are based on data from more than 150 countries.

  • Overall, global averages of life evaluations throughout the pandemic years ranked just as high as those measured before the pandemic. 

Americans are pretty happy compared with the rest of the world.

That’s according to the latest World Happiness Report, published Monday, which ranked the United States 15th on the list of the world’s happiest countries in 2023, up from 16th place in 2022. 

The report compiled data from more than 150 countries on average life satisfaction, and findings offer some good news for a world struggling with a years-long pandemic. 

“Average happiness and our country rankings, for emotions as well as life evaluations, have been remarkably stable during the three COVID-19 years,” said John Helliwell, an editor of the report, in a release.

“Changes in rankings that have taken place have been continuations of longer-term trends, such as the increases seen in the rankings of the three Baltic countries,” he added. Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia have all climbed the list in recent years.

Finland landed the top spot as the world’s happiest country for the sixth year in a row. It was followed by Denmark and Iceland, respectively. 

Despite its rise in the ranking, the United States’ average life evaluation fell slightly from 6.977 out of 10 in 2022, to 6.894 in 2023.  

But in 2023, the United States bumped Germany down to 16th on the list. Germany ranked 14th overall in last year’s report. 

Luxembourg also fell from 6th to 9th place overall, while France, which ranked 20th last year fell off the top 20 this year. Switzerland went from 4th to 8th place. 

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Other countries that saw gains this year included Israel, Canada and Sweden. 

Overall, global averages of life evaluations throughout the pandemic years ranked just as high as those from 2017 to 2019. 

In 2022, positive social connections and support were twice as prevalent as loneliness in seven key countries, including the United States, the report found.

These factors “were also strongly tied to overall ratings of how satisfied people are with their relationships with other people. The importance of these positive social relations helps further to explain the resilience of life evaluations during times of crisis,” authors wrote.

In addition, benevolence, or acts of kindness, was around 25 percent more common in 2022 compared with pre-pandemic years, data showed.

“For a second year, we see that various forms of everyday kindness, such as helping a stranger, donating to charity, and volunteering, are above pre-pandemic levels. Acts of kindness have been shown to both lead to and stem from greater happiness,” said Lara Aknin, a report co-author.

Researchers ranked residents’ life evaluations based on a three-year average from 2020 to 2022. They explained their findings based on six factors, including social support, income, health, freedom, generosity and absence of corruption. 

Afghanistan, Lebanon and Sierra Leone made up the bottom three countries on the list. 

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