The 20 Happiest Countries on the Planet

CC BY 2.0. Carlos ZGZ/Flickr

The latest World Happiness Report reveals that Scandinavia continues to reign supreme; USA gets sadder and sadder.

Every year in support of the UN’s International Day of Happiness, the Sustainable Development Solutions Network presents us with a meticulously researched compendium called the World Happiness Report. Released annually since 2012, the report ranks 156 countries by their happiness levels which are measured according to six key variables.

We cover the report every year, because, happiness ... also because the report is intended as a tool to help create positive public policy, including policy directed at helping the planet.

And every year the report reads like a love letter to Scandinavia; this year is no exception. What is different for 2018 is that the poor United States of America, a country that went from 13th to 14th place last year, tumbled to 18th place this year. It is the worst ranking that the USA has received since the report was founded.

On the top of the happy heap this year is Finland. But in fact, this year’s 10 happiest countries are the same top 10 from last year, they’ve just played musical chairs. Of the top rankings, the report points out, “differences are small enough that that year-to-year changes in the rankings are to be expected.”

The six variables that the report considers are: GDP per capita; healthy years of life expectancy; social support (as measured by having someone to count on in times of trouble); trust (as measured by a perceived absence of corruption in government and business); perceived freedom to make life decisions; and generosity (as measured by recent donations). The data is collected from surveys of people – and how they evaluate their lives on a scale running from 0 to 10.

And the winners are:

1. Finland
2. Norway
3. Denmark
4. Iceland
5. Switzerland
6. Netherlands
7. Canada
8. New Zealand
9. Sweden
10. Australia
11. Israel
12. Austria
13. Costa Rica
14. Ireland
15. Germany
16. Belgium
17. Luxembourg
18. United States
19. United Kingdom
20. United Arab Emirates

And on the sad bottom of the list? Yemen, Tanzania, South Sudan, Central African Republic and Burundi.

For a very interesting read, you can download the full report here or see more general information here.